Friday, June 18, 2004

Cultivating the Vineyard

by Nick France

Have you noticed the difference in our culture today, as opposed to say, 10 or 20 years ago? I have, and the older I get, the more it concerns me. There’s been a steady moral decline for some time now and we Catholics need to take a hard look at what we can do to curtail this current trend in society.

In Pope John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic exhortation "Christifideles Laici (The lay members of Christ’s faithful)," the Holy Father begins the document by reminding us of the richness of teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

He reminds us how, "The council fathers, re-echoing the call of Christ, have summoned all the lay faithful, both women and men, to labor in the vineyard (2.5)." He sent the challenge to not only priest and religious, but also to the lay faithful to cultivate the vineyard.

With the state of affairs today, regarding both the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, we, the laity, are called with urgency to take action. That, my brothers, means you and I. We all must continue to spread the gospel and take active roles in the community, thus setting an example of how to cultivate Christ’s vineyard.

We cannot stand by and expect the Church alone to fight the social, political and cultural ills of society. We must let our political leaders hear the voice of the Catholic laity. We need to be heard in numbers.

There are many issues confronting us today. In fact, I for one, see this time in history as pivotal. From same-sex marriages to the abandonment of God in our laws, there is much to be concerned with.

I am reminded of a recent homily from Fr. Ken about this very issue. He tells us how society is becoming accepting of a lesser moral worldview. He went on to say how we should be the people on the inside that we portray ourselves to be on the outside.

As I sat there listening to this homily, absorbing all the words, I began to think how timely Fr. Ken’s words were. I then began to look around at our congregation and I saw it as a microcosm of society.

As I observed those around me, I began to notice that some were listening intently and some not so intently. Some were just "getting it" and some were not.

I began to ask myself the question, "Why is it that when a group of people hear the Word of the Lord, some accept it immediately—They just "get it" – and some do not even hear it? It’s as if they’re deaf, or blocking out the words all together.

Perhaps is it because of the way society is in general. We live in a very secular world, devoid of God in many ways. And if certain groups have their way, they will continue to strip every remnant of God from our society that they can. We as the Catholic laity must not leave this battle to the Church alone. But we must take an active role and get involved. To what extent must we take action?

It does not matter the degree to which we get involved, as long as we do. Like the little boy with a few loaves and fishes, he didn’t think he had enough to help Jesus. But Jesus took the little that the boy had, increased it and turned it into what Christ needed to feed the crowd.

I think if we give society a little of our time, talents, treasure and opinions, or show a little of a shining example of the gospel through our actions and deeds, then that is enough.

We mustn’t think we need to change the world all by ourselves. The task seems insurmountable if we approach it this way. But together, with the Grace of God, expressing our Catholic values in a healthy well-balanced manner, we can make a difference. "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." [Matt 19:26]

Are you expressing your moral convictions? Are you standing up for what you believe in? Let our elected officials know how you feel about the issues that effect our futures…our children’s and grand children’s futures. We all need to live the lives in which we believe, for if we do not, we will begin to believe the lives of which we live. We are all called to cultivate the vineyard. †

No comments: