Our readings on this last Sunday of the Church year focuses on shepherding. The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel has God saying: “I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep.” The prophet goes on to say that God will “rescue them, pasture them, give them rest, seek out the lost, bring back the strayed, bind up the injured and heal the sick.”
My parents’ house was broken into a couple of times, influencing their decision to get a security system. Perhaps some of you have also had your house broken into as well, not a pleasant thought or reality. In the Second Reading today St. Paul writes that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘Peace and security,’ then sudden disaster comes upon them.”
These two words are extremely important in our lives and the theme of today’s gospel. When planning a trip we need to be prepared. When you start a project you need good preparation. In the event of an earthquake good preparation may save your life. If you are going to participate in a marathon or triathlon you need to be prepared. In our relationship with God we also need to be prepared.
The heroes of Christianity are the saints. They are doers who stand head and shoulders over ordinary people. Instead of treading in the safe middle, they go to the extreme. They stretch a virtue or a value to its furthest limit, allowing us to see what it looks like in pure form.
In today’s Gospel Jesus summarizes the many Jewish laws of his day into the two most important; two that actually contain all the others. Jesus says: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Today is World Mission Sunday and it reminds us that the Church and its needs are much bigger than St. Rita. While we each have our own financial responsibilities, many places in the world are much worse off. Today we are asked to reach out to this portion of the Church with generosity.
“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). This quote from today’s Second Reading is one of those verses I have committed to memory. I repeat it over and over again as I train and compete.
In today’s first reading the prophet Isaiah speaks in parable form. The vineyard is the people of God. God had done many things to cultivate faith in His people, but in spite of all the graces, blessings and efforts, the vineyard “yielded wild grapes.”
My dear friends, St. Paul shares with us some incredible words in today’s second reading. “Brothers and sisters: if there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.
The apparently unfair gospel today emphasizes the tremendous generosity of our God, a God who calls each of us through baptism to some service in the Church. Today it is my honor and privilege to commission the teachers and catechists here at St. Rita Parish for another year of service. These faithful Catholics have responded to the generosity of God by being generous with their own time and passing on the faith to others.