Monday, September 22, 2008

A Humble Worker in the Vineyard

Pope Benedict recalls how he presented himself on the day of his election as pontiff, from Asia News Italy:
The reflection prior to the Marian prayer, in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo, was dedicated to commenting on today's Gospel, for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which presents "the parable of the owner of the vineyard, who at different hours of the day calls laborers to work in his vineyard" (Mt. 20:1-6a).

"One message of this parable", the pope explained, "lies in the fact that the owner does not tolerate unemployment, so to speak: he wants everyone to be busy in his vineyard. And in reality, being called is itself a form of compensation: being able to work in the vineyard of the Lord, putting oneself at his service, collaborating in his work, constitutes an inestimable reward in itself, which repays any hardship. But only those who love the Lord and his Kingdom understand this; those who instead work only for payment will never realize the value of this inestimable treasure".

Benedict XVI numbers St Matthew, whose liturgical feast is celebrated today, among these "workers in the vineyard": "Before Jesus called him", the pontiff said, "he was a tax collector, and for this reason he was considered a public sinner, excluded from the 'vineyard of the Lord'. But everything changed when Jesus, passing nearby his customs post, saw him and told him: 'Follow me'. Matthew got up and followed him. He immediately changed from being a tax collector to being a disciple of Christ. Instead of being 'last', he found himself 'first', thanks to the logic of God, which - fortunately for us! - is different from that of the world".

Another "worker" is St Paul: "St Paul, whom we are celebrating in a special way with a jubilee year, also experienced the joy of hearing himself called by the Lord to work in his vineyard. And what work he did! But, as he himself confesses, it was the grace of God working in him, the grace that transformed him from being a persecutor of the Church to being an apostle of the Gentiles. So much so, that he said: 'For to me life is Christ, and death is gain'. But he immediately adds: 'If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose' (Phil. 1:21-22). Paul understood well that working for the Lord is already a reward on this earth".

Benedict XVI did not overlook himself, and recalled that at the Mass on the very day of his election, at St. Peter's, "I was prompted spontaneously to present myself as a worker in the vineyard of the Lord".

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