Oct 3, 2020

Hedge Funds and Finds


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Christ in this Gospel parable tells us that our heavenly Father planted a vineyard, set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. When you think of it, it sounds like a beautiful resort (or like one of those many wineries we have nearby in Temecula!)

We arrive at this carefully designed vineyard, and there is really not much hard work for us to do.  The scene is set – everything is in place (c.f. St. John Chrysostom Homily 68.1).  We are entrusted with its upkeep but most importantly, to ensure that it is productive and that the produce is not simply stored in warehouses, but is sent out from here as nourishment for the world.  

There is, in Christ’s parable, a message for us too, even though we remain outside celebrating Mass in the piazza. We are all grateful to the many who contributed funds for our new worship environment. Thanks to a “hedge fund” are now outside under a beautiful shaded area, surrounded by olive trees and the natural backdrop of Californian coyote brush and chaparral. But the parish church is not a resort, a spiritual health spa or a one-stop sacramental snack bar! There is no product sampling here. God does not ask us to operate our parish like a theme park or watch over it like museum caretakers. Our Sunday Mass is not a spectator sports event.

Instead, God's grace continually flows out from the Sacraments we celebrate here. The explosion of new life at every baptism should always spill over into the everyday lives and responsibilities of parents, godparents and all of family life. When every confession is heard and God's forgiveness assured, mercy and peace should influence all our future choices and relationships. When a man and woman vow their lives to each other before the altar in marriage it can not be simply captured and confined to a photograph in church - the sacred vows bear fruit when children are born and nurtured in homes and neighborhoods building up our communities. 

And our celebration of Sunday Mass - this banquet feast between heaven and earth is not a quick fix for a hungry soul. Christ's heavenly Body and Blood is strength and food for our journey throughout the week, bringing our Lord's life and ministry into our streets and neighborhoods where countless people still wait for Him. So how can we not keep what happens here a best kept secret when God wants us to collaborate in His urgent work to extend the fruits of His grace from here and into every aspect of our daily lives - into the whole world.  

Our parish campus has to provide at best an initial glimpse of heaven, an encouragement of the plan God has for our homes, our workplaces, our gardens and city - "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". In other words, everything that happens here, must happen out there too, or we shortchange God, and ourselves too.

This month of October, dedicated to the Rosary, invites us to enter into the memories of Our Blessed Mother Mary. She didn't simply give birth to Christ and then send Him out to save the world, while she stayed at home.  When Christ traveled the streets and roads, she was not far behind.  When He was out of sight, she went looking for Him. When He went to the Cross, she pushed through the crowds.

Even though we may have to maintain physical distance from each other, we can never be socially distant. That is not our nature. Nor was it or is it Christ’s. He may wear a mask, disguising Himself as often did while touring His harvest. May every day of our working week produce an abundant harvest for the Lord so that when we return here next Sunday, we will have much to celebrate and offer to God in thanksgiving for the good things He has done.

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