Some verses from today’s Responsorial Psalm contain the plea, “Give us new life, and we will call upon your name…if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.” October always begins with Respect Life Sunday and follows our diocesan observance of Rural Life Day (the fourth Wednesday of September). God is the source of life for all that lives and the source of eternal life for us. To us he has entrusted the stewardship of creation and care for one another. The Opening Prayer for the Mass on Rural Life Day, after thanking God “for the fruits that earth has given,” prayed that: “as the working of your supreme providence has produced them, so you may cause the seed of justice and the fruits of charity to spring up in our hearts.”
In today’s First Reading, Responsorial Psalm and Gospel, the image of the vine grower and his vineyard is a metaphor for the relationship of God to his people. It is with loving care that he tends us and sees to our needs, but he expects us to respond and bear fruit. We are to bear the fruit of “charity and justice.” God gives us the capability; we need to respond in faith. Standing up for the rights of the defenseless unborn, for the disabled, for the elderly, for those unable to defend or care for themselves, is a basic obligation in justice. Sharing our gifts, as we have in various charitable relief efforts and as we must in the Diocesan Annual Appeal, are basic obligations in charity. Gratitude to God for life, the fruits of the earth and the gift of redemption, is a basic obligation in faith.
However, the final verses in today’s First Reading after last Sunday’s violence in Las Vegas seem poignant: “he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!” In a country so blessed with beauty and natural resources as ours, why do these violent acts continue? One can only imagine the disappointment of God asking, “What more was there to do for my vineyard [Substitute “America”?] that I had not done?”
Day in and day out God gives us new life. Through the death and resurrection of his Son, he offers us eternal life. Let us never cease to call upon his name in praise and thanksgiving, and think about “whatever is true…honorable…just…pure…lovely… [and] gracious.…Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Second Reading)
Please be farsighted in making a pledge to the Diocesan Annual Appeal. I say this because there have been several requests recently for our charity in the recovery efforts of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; and now the devastating earthquake in Mexico. Remember that your pledge does not have to be paid off right away. Even the recovery from the disasters will take a long time. So make a conscientious pledge and take your time paying it off, and respond to more immediate causes as you are so moved. The video for this year’s Appeal can be viewed at http://diolc.org/stewardship.
The red-bordered envelopes in the pews or in the church entryways are for contributions to help our fellow countrymen—including those in Puerto Rico—recover from the recent hurricanes. These funds go through Catholic Charities USA. Make checks payable to your parish. Gifts to help the earthquake victims in Mexico are channeled through Catholic Relief Services. Donations can be made on line at <crs.org>.
October is the month of the rosary. It is a great family prayer. Continue to pray the rosary this week for the needs of the victims of recent hurricanes and the Mexican earthquake, and for the safety of all who are working on the cleanup and reconstruction. Let’s also pray the victims of the violence in Las Vegas, for the recovery of the injured, and for the consolation of the families bereaved.
May God bless his people with peace.