Septuagesima~Working for God


“Why stand you here all the day idle?”~ Matt. xx.

We are all called by God, my dear brethren, to labor in His vineyard. That is to say: we are called to serve God faithfully; to fulfil His Divine will; to observe His laws and precepts; to avoid the evil He forbids, and to do the good He prescribes. And we are not only called, but we are strictly bound to fulfil all that is included in this service of God. We are bound in justice, we are bound by gratitude to labor in God’s vineyard for His honor and glory, for the salvation of our souls.

God has a supreme right to our service. We are His creatures. It is God who created us, who called us out of nothing. To God we owe our life; to Him we owe the preservation of that life during every moment of existence. And therefore does St. Paul say, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Thus we are entirely dependent on God: we belong to Him, and He has supreme jurisdiction over us; He has the right to prescribe how we should live, how we should serve Him. There can be no exception to this law; He has the sole right to require everyone to labor in His vineyard. Where there is a right, there must also be a corresponding duty. It is God’s right to command the service of every one; it is the duty of every one to obey.

Hence there can be no idlers in God’s vineyard ; no man can offer the excuse that he has not been hired. Every act of neglect of God’s service, every evasion of His law, is always an act of injustice. Every sin has, besides its specific malice, the malice of injustice. Every idler in the vineyard of the Lord is in a state of sin; if he says that he has not been hired, he is a liar. God hires every man who comes into this world.

Besides the claim God has on us in justice, He has also a claim on our service by reason of the Redemption. We belong to Him because of the price He has paid for our salvation. “He has redeemed us at the price of His Precious Blood.” Justice makes us serve Him, but higher than justice is the claim of love. And His Love constrains us to obey Him. Love makes Him sovereign Lord and Master. We belong neither to the world, nor to the devil, nor to ourselves : we owe nothing to them ; we owe everything to Him whose love for us has moved Him to buy us with His blood. And so it is, my brethren, that every act of rebellion against God’s law is always an act of ingratitude as well as injustice ; every sin, besides its special malice, has the malice of injustice and ingratitude.

What pitiful, what hardened creatures we are when we forget these plain truths: when we act as though we were a law unto ourselves, and practically act as though we are responsible to no one. How dull is our sense of justice, how hardened is our heart when we can forget or ignore God and the claims He has upon us. We let the devil rule us, we make passion our master, we lift up self in place of God.

Are there any amongst us here this morning who have forgotten what they owe to God? Are there any whose years of sin and neglect of God have made them so deaf that they cannot hear His call to them; who do not know that their place is in His vineyard ? To such as these does God now say,  “Why stand you idle?” You who have wasted the morning, the noon, perhaps the evening of life in idleness, in sin ; “go you into my vineyard “; there is still a chance for you to redeem the wasted time. Wake up out of your lethargy. Shake off the stupor that unhallowed pleasure and secret sin have cast over you. Smash the chains that have bound you to the service of the devil, the slavery that has smothered within you every instinct of justice, every worthy prompting of the heart, every noble aim in life. “Why stand you here idle?” This is the call of God to you. Go you into the vineyard of His service. What though for years you have neglected His call, His mercy is still near you, and He will pay you what is just — will pay you with life eternal.

We are now on the threshold of Lent — the special season of prayer and penance. Be no longer idle. Enter upon God’s service with courage, with honest zeal, with firm hope in God’s mercy. Begin at once — begin with a good confession. God is now calling you; for many of you it is even now the eleventh hour; for many of you this call may be the last.

Five-minute Sermons for Low Masses on All Sundays of the Year
By the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

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