Sunday, September 18, 2011

Go to the Vineyard!

The catechetical landscape of the Diocese of Cubao is deteriorating because in spite of the the decrease in the public school population from last year’s 163, 686 students to this year’s 159,740, there is an increase in the number of uncatechized students from last year’s 31, 623 students to this year’s 36, 389. 4, 766 more students this year are added to the increasing number of those who will not hear the teachings of Jesus for this school year. This is due to the decreasing number of catechists this year.

Every September, we celebrate the Catechetical Month. Everytime we do this, we make an appeal for volunteer catechists. Like the landowner in today’s parable, we come out time and again to look for laborers to work in the vineyard. The appeal does not change, it has been repeated year after year: “You go into the vineyard.” It has remained unchanged because the Harvest is rich but the laborers are few. The once-a-week teaching of catechism is already a bad situation because the catechetical instruction does not stand a chance against the constant bombardment our youth receive from elements that are hostile to the gospel of Jesus. This is made worse by the absence of regular parental guidance and even worse still, the lack of catechists..36, 389 might seem to you a faceless numbers. But behind the figures are real human beings who are condemned to ignorance of Jesus Christ and of his truth that sets all men free. Many young people do not seek the Lord because they do not know that He wants to be found. Many young people do not call on the Lord because they do not know that He is near. Being deprived of catechesis, many people are condemned to a linited world view that stretches no further than the here and now. They are deprived of the opportunity to raise their thoughts to the thoughts of God which is higher and wider than ours: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.” And these many people do not know what they are missing. Like slaves that think that everything is fine because they do not know what being free means, many people think that they are satisfied with what the world has to offer because they do not know that they are meant for something more: they are destined to live for ever in heaven.

It is his knowledge of Jesus Christ that implants in the heart of St. Paul the sincere concern that the gospel be preached to those who have not heard it. While he finds death to be profitable because it would mean that he would enjoy the company of Christ for ever, he prefered to labor and toil in preaching the Gospel for the benefit of those who would hear it. If only each of us would have the heart of St. Paul. If only we had enough generosity of heart to respond to the call of Christ: “You go into my vineyard!”

When we hear these words: You go into my vineyard, we always think that the Lord meant to speak to other people...but not to me. But the Lord is really addressing these words to you! If only parents took seriously their catechetical obligation towards their children, the catechetical situation would not be so bad. We see these signs around us: Aso ko, tali ko; Tapat ko, linis ko. We recognize our responsibility towards our dog and toward our environs. But why do we not recognize our responsibility towards our own children: Anak ko, turo ko! Many parents do not recognize that they are the primary catechists of their own children. Godparents do not recognize that they are the secondary catechists of their godchildren. Many are like the men who, at late afternoon, hear the Lord's reproach: "Why are you standing here idle all day? You go to my vineyard!" Late in have not yet worked in the vineyard? You go to the vineyard!

Dare to respond generously to the invitation of Christ…for the Lord is never outdone in his generosity. Not only does he pay us what is just. He gives us more out of the abundance of his mercy: “Those that glorify and proclaim My great mercy, I shall protect them Myself at the hour of death as My own glory. And even if the sins of soul are as dark as night, when the sinner turns to My mercy he gives Me the greatest praise and is the glory of My Passion. When a soul praises My goodness, Satan trembles before it and flees to the very bottom of hell.” (Diary, 378.)

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