Tenants in the Vineyard

We certainly had a full schedule last weekend with two funerals and an Inaugural Liturgy on Saturday, Sunday morning Eucharist along with the Harvest Buffet Chicken dinner in the afternoon, followed by two more funerals (Monday and Tuesday).  I would like to express my gratitude to all those who participated in any way to help things go so well and so smoothly for the liturgies, reception, luncheons, and chicken dinner.  A number of people worked closely together behind the scenes at all three of our parish sites over the weekend, and it made a real difference in accomplishing all that needed to be done in presenting “our best,” in the midst of a demanding schedule.   God bless you all!

In the midst of my own preparations for all of the above, I failed to mention the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in last week’s bulletin.   The Synod is taking place October 5 – 19.  The topic is: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.  We have been asked to pray for this intention in the days leading up to the Synod as well as throughout the Synod.  In addition to intentions in the Prayers of the Faithful, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking us to pray the Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod composed by Pope Francis.  I have included the prayer in today’s bulletin so that you and your families may pray it at home these next two weeks.  Also, those who gather for the rosary in the morning, or those who pray it privately at home, might consider praying the rosary for the intentions of the Holy Father and of the Synod throughout October 19.

After the very full week leading up to this past Tuesday, I was nearly exhausted by that afternoon.     I have really not had many full days off since July 1, and have been trying to come up with a reasonable schedule for myself.  I know as well as you do that one can’t burn the candle at both ends for too many days in a row without a break.  So, I was finally able to have a few consecutive days off (beginning this past Wednesday) to get away and somewhat make up for lack of time-off lately.  I traveled to the Detroit area (actually Woodhaven) since my major concern was that I had not been able to visit my mom during the whole month of September. Most of you know that she has been in a Nursing Home for a year now.  She was so happy to see me (and I, her)!  I have been able to spend some time with her each morning, afternoon, and evening for three days.  We both have truly enjoyed our visits.  I thank God for her, for she is truly a remarkable woman!  I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with her.  I extend a special thank you to all who “covered for me” to make this visit possible.

Today is Respect Life Sunday.  As I mentioned last week, the theme this year is: Each of us is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation.  The whole month of October is dedicated to prayer and action to raise awareness and to help change hearts so that life (from womb to tomb) will be respected in all its forms.  Our mission as Catholic Christians, not only this month, but at all times is to choose and respect life, and to manifest to each person we encounter the face and the love of Christ: for example, the unborn, the elderly, people with disabilities, the person facing terminal illness, the person living on the street, the poor, the hungry, the homeless and the abandoned, and the person on death row.  Our compassion and respect is not limited to those individuals alone, but we must remind ourselves (and others) that they need to be in the forefront of our minds and the minds of others.  Our love extends to all, just as God’s unconditional love extends to all.  We may never know how much a simple gesture of compassion may affect someone’s life.  Love and justice, and prayer and action are what will motivate us to work for a transformation of our own hearts so that we can transform the world around us.   As we gather together as the Diocesan Church of Saginaw to celebrate Respect Life Sunday, I invite you to join us for the 5:30 PM Mass at the Cathedral this Sunday afternoon.

Just a reminder: All men of the parish are invited to the second organizational meeting of the newly forming Men’s Group.  It will take place on Monday, October 6 at 6:30 PM in the Meeting Room at the Ed Center.  Please enter through the Harrison Street doors.

This Sunday, once again we hear a parable in reference to the vineyard.  In this particular Scripture passage, the landowner leases his vineyard to tenants.  The tenants end up killing the servants, one after another. When the landowner sends his own son, thinking that the tenants will be more respectful toward him, they kill the son as well, because the son is the heir and the son is going to inherit everything.  The question Jesus poses to those listening to the parable is: “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”  Jesus answers his own question: “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants...I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”  This may sound like strong language, but God does hold us accountable for our actions.  Many of us have lost a sense of right and wrong, call it sin.   We develop habits that become so much a part of who we are that we lose focus on the expectations placed upon us as disciples of Christ.  Through Baptism, we have entered into the reign of God here and now.  We are laborers in the vineyard. Whether we know it or not, we are tenants and stewards of all God has given to us.  We are accountable for the ways in which we use or misuse what God has given to us, whether the fruits of the earth, the creatures of earth, or the human beings God has placed into our lives.  Today and each day we need to seriously look at the kind of tenants we have been.  There are many ways in which we demonstrate and witness to life, and there are also numerous ways in which we choose death over life through our words, actions and lack of respect toward others.  As we further reflect upon the Gospel, let us ask ourselves the following questions.   Do we choose and respect life?  Do we choose death by striking deadly blows toward others physically or verbally?  What are some ways in which have we chosen life this week?  What are some ways in which have we chosen death this week?  What do we choose more often: life or death?  Where is there need for conversion in our lives?   Will Jesus be prompted to put us in charge of his vineyard or will God charge us to a wretched death as he did to the tenants in today’s parable?

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ