THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Septuagesima Sunday

20 January 2008

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Dear Friend,

"Our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea; and they did all eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ). But with most of them God was not well pleased."

God calls us all to work in His vineyard. He calls some early and some late, but we all have been called. And for all those who work in the vineyard each receives a reward for the labor that he has performed. Yet, as St. Paul has informed us in today's Epistle, with most of them God was not well pleased. In today's Gospel we see that those who worked the longest were not satisfied with their wages even though they did receive a just wage and a wage that they themselves had agreed upon. At the end of the day their fallen nature allowed envy to overcome them. They were dissatisfied that those who only worked one hour were given the same wage as they received.

These poor souls were unable to see the goodness of the master in giving to those who were in need of a day's wage that wage even though they were unable to work a full day. Their hearts were devoid of Charity. And because of this lack of Charity the wage that they did receive was robbed of its true value. They still had the material value that the day's wage possessed but, the spiritual value was eroded away by their envy, so that now they found no pleasure or joy in that which they had because they now saw that everyone had exactly what they had.

The vineyard of their hearts were not diligently kept free of weeds. They allowed vices to take root and grow in their hearts. A superficial "weeding" is never enough. Too many unsuccessful gardeners attempt to weed by merely breaking off the tops of the weeds and leaving the strong roots in the ground. They have the appearance of a good garden, but it is only an illusion. For now the weeds will come back stronger than ever and take even more nutrients from the soil. The tops will quickly grow up stronger and higher and rob the garden of sunlight. If we wish to be saved we must not spiritually garden like the rest of men. The majority are satisfied with a superficial spiritual life. The few, are never satisfied with superficiality but are constantly striving to root out every single vice from their hearts, even down to the smallest fiber. The obvious vices are not near as dangerous as vices that lie hidden deep in the soil of our hearts.

Our father's in the faith who left the slavery of Egypt and traveled forty years in the desert with Moses were likewise deprived of the spiritual value of their reward because they allowed their fallen nature to place obstacles in the way of the true practice of Charity. Therefore St. Paul clearly says that: "With most of them God was not well pleased." Out of the six hundred thousand Israelites who had gone out of Egypt, only two, Josue and Caleb, entered the promised land; all the others died in the desert.

This is truly a warning for us Christians. God loved the Israelites as His chosen people and showered every blessing upon them; He had called them all to enter into the delightful country of Canaan that overflowed with milk and honey. And yet, out of the six hundred thousand who at their departure from Egypt were already grown up, only two, Josue and Caleb, entered the Promised Land. What a small number! And why? Because they were ungrateful for God's graces and always relapsed into their former sins.

Such will be the lot of all "Christians" who do not avail themselves of the graces of God for their salvation; they will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. And as, out of more than half a million of Israelites, only two entered the Promised Land, so only a few men and perhaps only a few Christians will go to Heaven. Christ emphatically says in the gospel of this day: "Many are called, but few are chosen." As the greater part of "Christians" do not live in the manner required for salvation, we need not wonder that by far the greater number will be lost.

If we wish not to be lost in the crowd of those who will be damned, but to be saved with the few, we must labor with zeal for our salvation. We must take the words of Jesus to heart: "The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away" (St. Matt. 11:12) Worldlings in puruit of temproal and transitory good spare neither pains nor labor. To this extent we must take them for our pattern. Let us look upon the saints of God also. Let their heroic example animate us. Like them, let us work and go on working with courage and perseverance. Heaven is worth it all.

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