Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Homily for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

“This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.”

The story that Jesus relates to the chief priests and the elders ought to simply break our hearts. How can we hear His words and not be moved to tears?

Such a story is painful to hear. The chief priests became enraged and indignant when they understood the meaning of the parable. Jesus called them illegitimate tenants of the Lord’s vineyard; he accused them of not living in the Covenant, but of destroying it. They had not offered the fruit of the vineyard to the Lord, but had attempted to keep it for themselves. They had become bitter and enraged that they did not own the vineyard; greed and lust for power blinded them to the evil of their actions.

Yet we know the truth – for although Jesus Christ has come in judgment of the world, He has come to redeem the world. If these wicked tenants would have but surrendered their produce, they would have received not just the surplus fruit. Rather, they would be made co-heirs with the Son. Instead, such reward is reserved for those to whom the vineyard will be given. This story, however, is not just meant for the chief priests and scribes: we each live out this parable.

When we sin, instead of joyfully offering the fruit of the vineyard to the Son, we try to keep it for ourselves, paradoxically losing the little we have. When, however, we accept the Son for who He is – the Heir to the promises of the Covenant, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – a miracle occurs. We are made sharers in the Kingdom with Him! We become co-heirs with Christ of the promises.

Our culture has become a culture of selfishness, of greed, and of power. In short, we could describe it – as did Pope John Paul II – as the “culture of death.” We are eager to “kill the heir” to preserve whatever meager portion we have, to keep whatever scraps of “fruit” we have harvested. The devil persists in spreading his lie: God is not generous, forgiving, or merciful. God will not have mercy. And so we grow farther and farther from our Father, at best avoiding His message, and at worst, killing the Son again and again by our sins.

In particular, the Church calls us to recall direct attacks on innocent life this month as we celebrate “Respect Life Sunday” at the beginning of October. The Church knows the pain and anguish of those afflicted with choices that are legal in our nation, yet gravely immoral. But what is the message of the Church? Is it condemnation, rejection, and judgment? Or rather is it mercy and forgiveness – and the clear call to live in the truth yet again?

I have been praying all week how to address this topic. It isn’t easy, especially since our country has lived with the scourge of legalized abortion for over thirty years. Since that time, more than 48 million children have been killed, and countless other lives forever scarred by the trauma that abortion leaves in its wake. Certainly the Church teaches that abortion must never be a resort; it takes the life of an innocent human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and destined to dwell with Him for all eternity.

Our Lord knows the sorrow in your heart if you’ve had an abortion. He reaches out with forgiveness and mercy; but I wonder, do we do the same? Are we prepared to offer the number for Project Rachel, to offer our prayers and sacrifices for those women suffering the traumatic effects of abortion? And do we really support the pro-life movement? Do we support Crisis Pregnancy Centers, not just with our leftover baby clothes and broken toys; but do we develop a real heart for women in trouble? Do we love and care for our poorest families – not offering abortion, but our concrete love and care?

Have we examined our consciences in this regard? Are we pro-life ourselves? This is not an optional teaching of our Church – we know that we must protect the dignity of human life, whether hidden in the womb or fixed in a hospital bed. Human life is sacred because it is another reflection of God Himself; each of us is created in His image and likeness. How can we deprive these innocent children of the right to be born? Perhaps we struggle with this issue, personally or politically. I encourage you to pray deeply; reflect upon the meaning of the Cross before our eyes, and the mystery into which we have been baptized, and in which we participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Finally, we can look at some concrete ways in which we can adopt a real concern for the unborn in particular, since these direct attacks on the dignity of human life occur all too often in our society. This month is October, the month of the Rosary. Please pray the Rosary every day, either as an individual, or as a family. Pray for the end of abortion in our great nation; pray for families; and pray for the poor.

Today, after this Mass at 2:00 pm in Westland, is the annual Life Chain. At 2:00 pm until 3:30 pm, people will line Warren Avenue at Wayne Road in Westland, holding signs that proclaim “Abortion Kills Children.” Please come and support this important, prayerful witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps, too, this month, we can all find time to spend in Eucharistic Adoration, speaking directly to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, asking Him for the grace to speak out against abortion in our own lives, and offer healing and reconciliation to those who have been hurt.

The wicked tenants refused to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God, and Jesus tells us that these wretched men will be put to a wretched end. The Son, however, came that we might have an abundant life. Pray that we might be strangers of the Son no longer, but embrace His Cross. He died upon It, not for enemies and strangers, but for us: His brothers and sisters, His own Mystical Body, the Church. When we live this mystery, we will no longer live in the culture of death, but will transform this culture, in the power of the Son, into a culture of life.