Septuagesima Sunday – The Laborers in God’s Vineyard

GOSPEL. Matt. xx. 1-16. At this time: Jesus said to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder, who went early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market-place idle, and he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour: and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vine yard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the laborers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first, last; for many are called, but few chosen.


The Laborer’s in God’s Vineyard Called At Different Times Of The Day


The kingdom of heaven is like to the father of a family, who goes out very early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He comes to the square in the city where workmen gather, waiting for someone to engage them. He finds them there arid hires them to work in his vineyard, agreeing to give them a penny a day. Three hours afterward he goes there again, and finds some more who wish to work; these also he sends to work and promises them what is just. Again, three hours afterward, he does the same, and also at the ninth hour, which is in the afternoon when the heat of the day is over and the day is far spent, when they could not expect to be hired except for small jobs; still this father of a family whose work was very pressing hires them also. Not yet satisfied, just before the last hour, he goes to the market-place, and still there are some standing waiting, thinking perhaps that they may obtain work for the day following. But so great was the hurry of the father of the family, that these also he sends to his vineyard to work for that one short hour.

Who is that father of a family, my dear young people? He is our good God. It is the Lord of heaven and earth who wants us all, without exception, to go to work in His vineyard, which is the Church. As is stated, He is continually calling and sending laborers to His vineyard. But your own little soul is also meant in speaking of the vineyard.  From your earliest childhood God has called you to work there. Have you worked hard and faithfully that a good harvest might be obtained? Perhaps you have not given it a thought, and have been idle all the day. All your thoughts and endeavors were directed to enjoying yourself in this world; you passed your time in play and idleness. The word of God was loathsome to you; not only did you not think of doing right, but you even looked forward to do evil; you labored to ruin your soul, you grew fatigued in the ways of wickedness, you would not listen to the loving invitation of God: “ Go you also into My vineyard.” Great will be the punishment of such young people.

But you, my willing young people, will listen to the invitation, and at once proceed to the cultivation of your hearts. Listen to the instruction of your parents, look for the society of good companions, attend to the prayers and exhortations of your teachers and your confessors. Continually, hour after hour, Our Lord knocks at the door of your hearts; He wants to enter and remain there, He is anxious to obtain full possession of your soul. He is not looking for a share in your heart, but for the whole of it; the heart is after all, small; the more you give it to the world the less will remain for God.

St. Teresa had affection for a certain relative; she noticed her attachment was becoming stronger, and she gave it up. Then Our Lord said to her, “Now you are altogether Mino and I am all yours/ But some of you may say that according to the Gospel it does not seem necessary to go to work at the first call there is time enough, the invitation will certainly be repeated several times in the future and all will heed it. God is so good, He will gladly receive us into His vineyard at any time of our life. Had the workmen who stood there awaiting a call said, “Well, we will not go now, but will wait till later in the day,” what would the father of the family have said? Would he have waited for them? It is not likely; even though God is merciful and of infinite goodness, will He continue to waste His invitation on unwilling creatures? Is not this good God worthy to be served by you from your childhood? Are you going to give Him only the last days of your life, He who is worthy of all love? We would certainly fall into despair if we came to the end of our lives and found we had done nothing for the glory of God. There lived a certain man who spent the most of his life in enjoyments. He used to say, “How beautiful the world is! I have all I want, money in plenty, servants at my command, good food, magnificent estates, and agreeable companions. Let me have a carnival the whole year round.”  In this way he continued to live the most of his life, but in old age he began to think that there was another world, where he knew he would be unhappy for all eternity. He became a Religious, and consecrated himself entirely to God. In the beginning the poor man was so ashamed of himself before God, that he had enjoyed the wicked world and now was willing to cheat the devil, that it seemed almost dishonest of him to participate in so much glory in heaven, when he had deserved nothing but condemnation in hell. He seemed to hear -a voice within him saying, “You are a nice fellow; you got all the pleasure that was possible out of the world, and when it has lost its charms you give the leavings to God. What do you think God can do with such refuse?” It was enough to drive him to despair, for what answer could he make? The case was plainly against him. You, my dear young people, began long ago to serve God, all your days have been spent in His service; if sometimes you have fallen you have begun again. St. Thomas says that “They who have served God from childhood will certainly be saved.”

When evening came the father of the family gave orders that each one should receive what he had earned, the last as well as the first. And what reward, did the last get? They received as much as those who had worked since early morning. But why were all paid equally? Because the last were full of fervor and zeal, and had the good intention of laboring faithfully. God, you see, not only pays for our work but also for our intention. Have the intention to do great things for God, and even though you do not perform them they will be placed to your credit. In the morning say your prayers and at the same time wish that you could pray always; hear Mass with the feeling that you would like to hear all the Masses that are celebrated all over the world; go to communion occasionally, wishing that you could receive Jesus every day. Study to bring back wayward youths by your words and good example, praying that almighty God may extend the favor of His graces to all that have gone astray. Suffer patiently for God’s sake the little injuries that one meets with in every-day life, with the resolution of enduring any injuries, fatigues, or labors that God may be pleased to send you. Would you not become very rich in merit if you lived in this manner? God, on the Last Day, will call His faithful servants to sit on His own throne and will fill them with great joy. If you think of this, how careful you will be to remain faithful to God and endeavor to merit more. The trouble with all of us in this world is, that we forget that heaven is to be the reward of our good actions. My young people, raise your eyes to heaven. Do much good, lead holy lives, and make all efforts to gain the pleasure of paradise.

In the time of St. Augustine there lived in Rome a lady named Melania. One day she began to think seriously of her salvation; moved by this thought, she gave up all the gayeties of the world, and began to mortify herself so much that in a short time she became greatly emaciated; her uncle, a man without much conscience, had not been at home when she was converted, and when he saw her face colorless and reduced in flesh, he cried out, “Is this the handsome lady Melania?” She gave him this beautiful answer: “The love of heaven has done this.” The words were spoken with such fervor and conviction that he was converted, though the eloquent sermons of St. Augustine had never made any impression on him. My dear young people, no longer hesitate to make the good resolution to gain heaven at any cost; omit nothing that will conduce to that end; do not believe yourself secure until you are in heaven, for Our Lord concludes His Gospel by saying: “Many are called but few are chosen.”  Be not terrified or disheartened by these words, for those only will lose heaven who neglect the things that would bring them there. Pray then a great deal, go to confession often, receive communion frequently, avoid mortal sin hate even venial sins, and you will surely go to heaven.

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