Is. 55:6-9; Phil 1:20-24, 27; Mt. 20:1-16a.
This parable speaks of the missionary function of the Church. The earliest to the called into the kingdom of God was Israel. From the supposed era of Abraham in the 1500 B.C. God taught Israel how to work in his vineyard, to serve him as the one true God, to offer his holocausts and sacrifices and worship, and to live by his moral laws, as dictated by the Ten Commandments. The Qahal Yahweh was a complete Church: High Priesthood, Priesthood, and Deacons, a place of worship, with sacrifices, prescribed offerings, Atonement for sins, holy days, and many ablutions for purification. They bore the labor of the vineyard from the very start. Second to the Israelites, were converts to Judaism from neighboring countries who joined themselves to Abraham and his descendants. The Queen of Sheba and the Ethiopians embraced Judaism. Along the centuries many joined Israel to worship Yahweh. In Jesus’ lifetime, there was the Canaanite woman from Tyre whose daughter was tormented by a demon. Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, baptized the Centurion Cornelius and his household. Then Paul and Barnabas started the preaching of the Gospel to Gentiles, Greeks, Romans, and Syrians, Chaldeans, Persians, and nations in the Roman Empire, to Spaniards, Gauls, Helvetians, Germans, etc. They came later into the Catholic Christian fold. When colonialism started, the missionary work of the Catholic Church went on to spread into the New World of the Americas, Africa, and to us in Asia. We were among those hired into the vineyard in the afternoon. There are still others who need to be brought into this vineyard and maybe at the neck of time at five o’clock in the afternoon of the Church, God will still call people into the vineyard. We are among those who received the faith in the 1500s and by the 1900s Filipino missionaries were already being sent to other countries to bring more workers into the vineyard, and we already contributed martyrs into the Church –Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod.
In Israel there were the holy men and women, patriarchs and prophets. Among the modern Jewish saints is Edith Stein with the name of Teresa Benedicta. But among the Gentiles there were many more saints; we only have to look at the stories of the “incorruptibles” to verify this. These saints received the denarius of the usual wage –the Lord was and is their reward. Whatever time or epoch in the history of the Catholic Church we may have entered into the vineyard of the Lord, the reward is the Lord himself, his very person and his love. As we enter the Church, let us see the many gifts given us: the life of grace, our share in the sanctifying grace which is the very share in the divine life; the sacraments that sanctify our life from womb to tomb; living in a community of love because we share in God’s love and we share God’s love to everyone. As we think of the many gifts we receive by working in God’s vineyard, we become thankful, we praise our God, we glorify him. We become happy in our gifts and for sharing the same gifts to everyone else. We are not envious because others have more gifts than we, rather we are joyful that many share the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church. As Teresa of Avila said: “Solo Dios basta”; “with God I have all/enough.” Possessing God is possessing all, and there is no room for envy or complaint. Possessing God is having all. Loving God is loving all.