26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 21: 28-32):
But "messy" in the good sense of the word. Picture the scene: babies screaming, young children running around, parents making sure everyone has arrived or calling their relatives who are running late to make sure they have the correct directions. Then there are the proud and honored godparents, excited by their new role, taking countless photographs from every angle, while the exhausted grandparents just want to sit down, rest their feet and simply watch - watch everyone and wonder how everyone has grown up so fast and with so much energy.
This is our family life - it's messy, unpredictable, with so many individual personalities and characters. And yet there is room for everyone. That's why the best adjective to describe the Church is the word "catholic", meaning "according to the whole", "universal", the place where everyone and everything finds meaning!
But there is more. While we can be joyous knowing that God does in fact promise us His gifts, we have to, not only hear His voice, but "do" what He tells us to do in order to bring in this great harvest of grace we anticipate in every baptism.
Yes, when we remember family baptisms and confirmations, what comes first to mind is the celebration, the festivity. And rightly so. The photographs remind us of the day. But what sometimes happens, is we can easily "fast forward" over the most solemn promise and commitment we as parents or godparent also made during the celebration of baptism - to bring up our children in the knowledge and in the practice of the faith. That's the hard work of going into the vineyard and securing the harvest for the future.
God tells us to go into the vineyard and work. Sometimes, when it comes to living our Christian faith, identity and lifestyle, we can be tempted to think that working in the vineyard of the Lord is only a one-day affair - Sunday. But I doubt God would want us "working" on Sunday! So, maybe, working in His vineyard is instead reserved for all the working days of the week. That makes sense!
The Father sends His sons into the vineyard. It's a family business - it is not run remotely, nor is the work of the vineyard outsourced to professionals or interns. Instead, the children work alongside everyone else. In the vineyard, everyone pulls their weight together, cooperates and helps to bring in the harvest - which is ultimately the salvation of souls. And this is a great challenge.
The vineyard of the Lord is the world He created! The grapes will not detach themselves from the vine and float over to us and land gently in our hands like prized trophies. We have to immerse ourselves, throw ourselves into the very heart of the world to work, with God's grace, for its salvation. And this is messy work. Think of what the color of our hands will be like after pulling the grapes off the vine. What will our feet be like, after trampling the grapes? It is hard work - it is messy work. But it is rewarding work.
But do not be discouraged. Not only does God give us every day the opportunity to work for the salvation of souls, He also gives us the necessary grace and strength to do so. Therefore do not let the messiness of life discourage you. Like a church baptism in real time, God's grace works in the midst of screaming babies, coughs and sniffles, and even when the odd cell phones go off in the middle of prayer. God's grace is to be found in the everyday circumstances of your daily life, and not just yours - even without them knowing, also your neighbor’s. But they need to know, and we need to tell them, so that the whole family might rejoice in the rich and abundant harvest of God's grace.