My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Although the Holy Week for us is still months away but from today until Advent we will be listening, on Sundays, to the Gospel passages taken from the Holy Week Jesus lived. Let us appreciate those sayings of the Lord which we will be given over next weeks. Those final messages are from the Son of God who is aware that it is a matter of days for him to be captured. Jesus is aware of his condemnation as he looks into the eyes of some of his fellow Jews.
In this tense situation however we see the only begotten Son of God who doesn’t stop his work in the vineyard of his heavenly Father. In the Scriptures a vineyard is a symbol of the people of God. Jesus is the one who does his ministry to this precious vineyard continuously.
Let us remember the words of the man who went to his first son and said: ‘My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.’ This mission offered to the first son from the parable evokes the mission with which Jesus, the Firstborn of all creation, was entrusted by his heavenly Father. Before the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary, before Mary said yes, her fiat, to the invitation from heaven, and thus became a part of Divine Mission, it was Jesus who said yes to his Father who asked him: ‘My son, you go and work in the vineyard today.’
St Paul in our second reading taken from the Letter to the Philippians contemplated this ‘yes’ of Jesus and its consequences: ‘His state was divine, yet Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave.’ Why did Jesus assume the condition of a slave? Because we tend to feel sorry for ourselves as we imagine that we are slaves who need to put up with ‘a heavy day’s work in all the heat’ as the people first employed in the parable last Sunday described their time in the vineyard. Because like the second son from today’s Gospel we find ourselves so disconnected from God’s love for his people that we don’t see the vineyard of the Lord, his Holy Church, as our inheritance. Because we would rather call God ‘Sir’ like that second son did rather than ‘Abba’ as Jesus did. Because if we called God Abba it would mean that we cannot turn a blind eye to the people who also have a right to call him Abba. Because if we called God Abba we had to call his vineyard, his Church our Church, our inheritance, for which we are responsible.
Let me give you a moment from Jesus’ mission which occurred in his Holy Week. It was when he prayed in the Gethsemane: ‘Abba, remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ There Jesus voiced what is our common experience: loving others makes us vulnerable, loving others doesn’t guarantee that people will love us back, that they will appreciate it. But it is not the point. We are called to minister to those around us because as Christians we have been given a charism of looking at people the way God does.
I invite you to think about people near and far and to pray the prayer of Gethsemane: ‘Abba, remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ It is a prayer of someone who is realistic about the challenges of loving people. It is a prayer of someone who is realistic about their own feebleness when it comes to loving. However it is predominantly a prayer of someone who does not want to run away from the vineyard of the Lord, from his Holy Church. Jesus prayed it, not only for himself but for me and you.