in Ordinary Time (A)
Reading 1 IS 55,6-9 Psalm 144/145 Reading 2 PHIL 1,20c-27a Gospel MT 20,1-16
Dear brothers and sisters,
Saint Paul confides to the Philippians the desire to be called by the Lord to conclude his labour in order to enjoy Him: however, he is ready to give that up if his work is regarded by the Lord as useful for the brethren. He does not want that his desire to be with the Lord might look in any way like selfishness, because he wants to be of help to the faithful. This apostle's will is a stimulus for us. Are you Jesus Christ's possession? Have you been conquered by Him? Are you living a living, sincere, steadfast faith?
So you too will look for occasions to be of help to the brethren, to be a missionary for those who do not believe, to be a father to those who are still without the eternal life. Jesus did not benefit us, forgive us and renew us, so we could continue to live thinking only of ourselves, and neither so we could think of other people only in terms of health and earthly well-being. He wants us to be His cooperators in God’s Vineyard.
To be God's cooperator! In order to be so, we need to free ourselves from our ways of looking and thinking, because, the Lord says: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways”. It is quite easy for our ways to be wicked, because on them runs our selfishness. Therefore, in order to cooperate with Him, it is necessary to abandon our ways and our thoughts. This is no easy task, but very fruitful. In fact the Lord is counting on us. And He says it today with a parable.
Today it tells properly how the Lord is always looking for he who makes an effort for Him. At all times He goes out to see if anyone is out of job. Are you among these? Maybe you work a lot, maybe you are super busy doing different things, but are those all outside His Vineyard? Have you some work in the Kingdom of God? Are you cooperating with the brethren's faith?
Be ready to answer the Lord: He keeps looking for someone to do some work with Him, His work, for men's spiritual good, for the building of the Church. Pay attention to His proposals or His calls. Are you young? Are you adult? Are you old? There is room for everyone, there is work for everybody. There is no such thing as right or not right people; the places are not reserved for someone more worthy.
Jesus is looking among those who do not know many things, among those who are little and poor, even among those who feel rejected by everyone, even among those who have never worked with Him. He confirms it by telling about the many outings of the “landowner” in order to find workers for his vineyard. The vineyard, in the biblical culture, reminds of the prophets' parables which tell of the people of God.
To work in the vineyard means to be busy for the good of the people of God: today we would say “for the Church”. Working for building the Church is working for every single person's spiritual well-being, so those are united to Jesus, so there is harmony and love among them and nobody live just for themselves. If the Church is healthy, if in it burns the fire of God’s love and if in it love for one another is fostered, this will be an advantage for everyone, even those who are not part of it: it is always true that it is like the yeast, like the salt, like a small flame the warmth and the light of which are diffused around it.
In the parable, above all is surprising the conclusion, and really it looks like that the latter is very important to Jesus: the last one to arrive receives the same wage as the one who has been sweating since the very first light of the day, so much so that the latter finds that the employer has been unfair. This is the way of thinking and living of this world. My experience instead is the following: when I make an effort for the Lord, I receive joy for every person who reaches Him, it does not matter if they arrive at the last minute. My joy is Jesus' joy, it is having the very same heart. My reward is the brother's joy.
When I work and labour for the Lord, I do not ask nor I look for anything for myself, because I have become a little like Him, I have become love myself! God's thoughts are different from those of the men, but when we live for Him, His thoughts become ours, joyfully! The reward the Lord gives them, who work with Him and for Him is not shareable, it cannot be more or less: His reward is divine, is perfect. The reward is the communion with Jesus, and this is always full and perfect joy.
Jesus, do not give me anything, let me only see my brethren happy, let me see them safe in your hands, holding on to you and enjoying you: my joy will be full, and my reward perfect!
Izmir, 01 June 2020
Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church
Dear priests, religious, consecrated and faithful all of the diocese of Smyrna,
I am sure that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on each of you and on your families. It has opened the doors of the apartments where you are locked up because of the pandemic. Above all, it has opened the doors of your heart, giving everyone new courage, new hope and new joy.
United spiritually to Mary and the apostles in prayer in the Upper Room, we confidently invoked the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. And the Holy Spirit has also descended on us and our families. An impetuous wind that has canceled our fears. The tongues of fire that filled us with the love of the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit has certainly helped you to draw many positive lessons from the drama of the corona virus. For example, the rediscovery in the calm and silence of values that perhaps we had put in the background, taken from the many things to do. The importance of family affections, in particular towards our elderly and sick people. The importance of having deeper relationships with the people who live around us and maybe we said goodbye quickly by rushing to work or thinking only about our things. We realized how fragile and vulnerable we are. We cannot live without Someone, God, who gives true meaning to our existence. The news reports tell us about the number of infected people and the dead. Politicians speak above all of the gravity of the economic crisis and the importance of restarting the production system. Few speak of the crisis of moral values and the need to rediscover the spiritual dimension of man. Man is not God. He is a fragile creature who finds himself lost and disoriented in the moment of trial, suffering and above all when he is helpless in the face of the reality of death.
Dear brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit will continue to illuminate us Christians so that we can be witnesses to the presence of God and his merciful love. The fire tongue of the Holy Spirit has descended on each of us. And then we became strong and courageous men. We are like living gospels that others can read clearly and open up to the light of the Lord Jesus, who died and rose for us.
Dear brothers and sisters. On the conclusion of the third session of Second Vatican Council in 21th November 1964, St. Pope Paul VI has declared Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church”. It means Mother of all Christians.
Pope Francis, established in 2018 that there was a liturgical celebration of Mary, Mother of the Church, on the Monday after Pentecost.
Mary was at the foot of the cross at the moment of Jesus' death. Jesus entrusted the apostle John to her. John represented the Church, that is, all of us. Mary was among the apostles gathered in prayer in the upper room to invoke the Holy Spirit. It is natural then that the Mother of Jesus is invoked as the Mother of the Church.
The day after Pentecost, a liturgical time called "ordinary time" begins. It is the time when we are called to make the central mysteries of our faith concrete in daily life. We must live our faith every day in the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Easter season ends with Pentecost.
With the light and strength of the Holy Spirit and with the certainty of the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, we can now give new impetus to our Christian life, proved by the experience of isolation caused by the danger of contagion of the virus.
The Holy Spirit supports us in the life of prayer. It gives us joy to constantly resume participation in church at Sunday mass.
We hope to meet again on June 14th to celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord together. The Risen Lord is present in the midst of the community gathered in his name. The Lord makes us a gift of his Word and above all renews on the altar the Eucharistic sacrifice that reconciles us with God and with the brothers. We can then turn to God by calling him "Father". In communion, the Lord Jesus enters our life to make it similar to his. He then sends us as announcers and witnesses of his love and salvation.
Dear brothers and sisters. We will soon be able to reopen the churches. The Lord invites us all. Knock on the door of our heart. He wants to get intimate with us. He only wants our good, the good of our families and our Christian community. We must resume our life of faith with new impetus and serve the Lord and our brothers with generosity and joy.
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church is among us and unites us in her love .