The cyber-version of my homily for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, 3 July 2010
It is the season, here in fertile valleys of the wine country, that we start to enjoy the fruits of the harvest. The simple blessed pleasure of a vine-ripe tomatoe, warm and fragrant from the summer sun; or the soon to come intense labors of crush as our fertile vineyards yield the fruit of the vine to the press and process of becoming fine wines all teach us the lesson of harvest. These blessed fruits could not be shared without those who labor, and labor hard and long. This reality, often taken for granted, is essential to remember and apply..if we are to eat, drink..live.
This lesson is shared by our Bible readings today. The people of Christs’s time well knew that necessity of laboring for the harvest. Whether one worked sowing seed, tending an orchard or harvesting the fruits and grains they all knew, if they were to eat..they were to work. They understood their shared call, their vocations to labor for that harvest.
Christ’s Kingdom, represented here on earth by His Church, is no different. To know the abundant beauty, power and blessing of the Church, the new Jerusalem expressed by the Prophet Isaiah takes consecrated effort of holy love and faith to nourish, protect and bring to fruition the graces of Christ in our midst. There are many dangers and assaults against the people of God and against His servants. There are many intended evil ravages of God’s harvest of grace. Some would through up their hands in dismay and dwell upon these challenges. But those who are willing to heed God’s call would DISCERN, DISCOVER and RESPOND to the call of the Crucified to serve in His Church.
GOD IS CALLING. Christ is seeking men and women, the young and the old, the strong and the infirm to DISCERN His call and serve in His grace and power. It is as we learn to LISTEN to the dynamic whisper of the Holy Spirit amidst the clamor and collapse of this world we RECOGNIZE the voice of Christ, crucified and risen. As we pray and seek the Kingdom of God, seeking His will we live a life of ongoing discernment, growing in the discovering of who we are called and created to be in and through the holy love of God.
Heeding God’s call we DISCOVER in the daily ongoing adventure of life, love and faith that is ours as we follow the Shepherd of our souls. It is my firm belief that here in the Parish of St. John the Baptist, and in our Church world-wide, there are many vocations to the priesthood, to the religious life expressed by faith-filled nuns, religious priests and brothers, and to the diaconate. I speak not only of those of us who may be seeking to live out these varied vocations. I speak of men and women of all ages who are sensing the call to be consecrated in a life of courageous service to the Church. There are likewise those who are called to many other vocations of good and holy work in service, medicine, education, family life and so much more. I believe we as a parish are called to be and become a community that encourages and nourishes those rich vocations in God’s will. The awesome work and beauty of the wines made by so many of you are but a symbol of the spiritual fruit we are called to nourish among us. This discovering of our vocations is a life time of faith and obedience. Perhaps the first steps may be to serve as an altar server, lector or extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. As our education ministry grows you may take first steps into even greater ministry as a teacher, or helper in a classroom or project. Together we discern and discover God’s call and purpose in our lives.
As we discern His vocation for us we discover the plan and purpose of God’s designs. This discernment, this discovery, brings us to RESPOND. We may feel or sense our inadequacies. We may fear the costs and unknowns our yes to God may bring. We may well know our own inabilities and weaknesses fear to fail the God we love. Yet the nail-pierced hand of the Shepherd will lead us through all our fears and excuses…as we but allow Him to. It is as we say our yes to God we grow in our discernment and discovery of the Presence, power and purpose of His holy love. The true joy of those harvested tomatoes, that glass of fine wine, those are all but a hint of the joy of sharing in the call of the Harvest of His holy love.