Liturgical Colour : Green or Violet (Septuagesima Sunday – Usus Antiquior)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Septuagesima Sunday, which literally means ‘seventy’. This is to remind us that as this is the ninth Sunday before Easter, we are about seventy days away from the great feast and celebration of our Lord’s Passion, death and ultimately, the most important of all, the Resurrection through which He made whole all mankind and bring hope into the world engulfed in the darkness.
As is appropriate, the Gospel today from the Gospel of St. Mark spoke about time and works that men take up, to fulfill the Lord’s call for all of us. The parable of the vineyard workers and the owner is speaking about how we mankind, the people of God are called by the Lord to be His servants and to do the good works which He had initiated in this world.
The Gospel from the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time spoke of how Jesus our Lord exercised His power and authority to cast out demons and heal all those afflicted by the physical and spiritual sickness and diseases. And that is just how our Lord does His work to liberate us all from the clutches of Satan, and ti show the way for us all to seek the Lord our God.
And in the first reading of the Ordinary Time readings, from the Book of Deuteronomy, the Lord had promised His people that He would send them a Prophet, that is the One who would bear His will and His words of truth to the people. Jesus is that Prophet, who taught the people and His own disciples through stories and parables which bore the truth of God inside them. He is the Word of God made flesh.
In the parable told by Jesus in the Gospel for Septuagesima Sunday, the vineyard owner is truly the Lord our God, who is the Lord of all. The vineyard itself is the world that is saved, that is the Church of God, and the workers are all of us, the race of men. God seeks out all of us at different times, and He sought us in the darkened world outside the Church, that is everything else beyond the vineyard. Like the owner who went out to seek more workers for his field at various hours, the Lord too seeks us at all the time, desiring to find us and bring us to salvation.
There are therefore three main things I want and I hope all of us will take away from the readings of today, that we may reflect on them and understand the necessity for us to know what the Lord wants from us. First, it is that we should not wait until it is too late and then only then we desire to seek the Lord. The Lord always wants to seek us, but if we ourselves refuse to listen to His call, then we will be forever damned in the darkness.
And we do not know when death will come for us. All of us will die one day, at the time and place that only the Lord our God knows. There are many who continue to ignore the Lord’s heedings for us, and they wait, thinking that there is still time for them. But death may claim them on the next day, and even on the next minute or second! And when that happens, no matter how we beg or how we plead with the Lord, He will refuse us for we have ourselves refused the generous and repeated offer of mercy which He had given us.
And then secondly, the Lord invites us to enter His Church, to be saved with all those who have been saved earlier. The Church of God is represented in the Gospel with the vineyard and all the workers inside it. All those whom the Lord calls and accepted His call and worked in His Church are saved. Thus, we ought to rejoice indeed, for we have received baptism that initiated us to be the members of the Church, the children of God and thus the partakers of God’s saving works and grace.
And last of all, as we see, that all the workers received equal pay of one denarius or silver coin, regardless of how long they have worked in the vineyard. Thus, the same applies to all of us the children of God. Regardless of what we have in this life, our possessions, our abilities and talents, our works and contributions, as long as we are all faithful to God and keep His commandments, we are all equal before the Lord.
This does not mean literally that everyone should be equal. As we can see, that different workers work at different hours and for different lengths of time. This means that each of us in the Church of God have distinct roles, each according to his or her own abilities. We should not be jealous that others had done less, or be proud that we have attained salvation earlier because He called us earlier than others.
This means that we should not be proud of our justification and look down on others who have yet to be saved. After all, as long as we receive His salvation and agree to become part of His Church, we shall receive the same reward, represented by the equal pay of one denarius for each worker, that is our salvation and eternal life, to live together in perfect bliss and happiness without end, with the Lord our God.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that we all have much to do in order to bring others into the salvation in God. We should help one another, and as part of the Church, to be examples and role models for all those who have yet to find their way to the Lord, so that they too may be saved. And we have to realise as well, that the vineyard of the Lord, that is His Church, still require many people to help as the servants of the works of God.
May all of us be awakened to follow the Lord and to righteously walk in His way. Let us all seek the Lord and harken to His call. Do not wait until it is too late for us, but let us stir ourselves from our slumber and walk from now on, only in the path of the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.