daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 29th Week of the Year, October 27, 2012
Eph. 4:7-16, Ps. 121, Luke 13:1-9

"Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:4-5).

The word of Jesus and the good news of the New Testament are full of consolation and comfort, promising us the forgiveness of our sins and salvation if we repent and believe in the gospel. It is a message of salvation and happiness. It is good news for sinners, for it tells us that God is full of mercy and love for all, but especially for sinners. "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17).

But today we hear that if after a reasonable period of time we do not repent and bear good fruit, we will perish. "But unless you repent all will likewise perish" (Luke 13:5). We are like a fig tree that does not bear fruit. Christ gives us time to improve and start bearing good fruit, but if we do not improve, he will cut us down. "Let it alone, sir, this year also till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down" (Luke 13:8-9). If we are not bearing good fruit, we need to change and start bearing fruit. Otherwise we will be cut down. Hence Jesus cursed a fig tree that had only leaves but no fruit, "and the fig tree withered at once" (Matt. 21:19). "Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every good tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matt. 3:10). What did God do to his vineyard that yielded wild grapes after he had taken such good care of it? He says, "Now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briars and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it" (Isa. 5:5-6).

Such is the Church today. Fifty years ago there were many priestly and religious vocations. Now in certain countries there are practically none. Surely this is the punishment of God for yielding wild grapes or only leaves but no fruit. This crisis began in 1968 when many rejected Humanae Vitae, the official teaching of the Church. After that many priests and religious began to abandon the religious habit, the cassock, or clerical attire, which are signs of our dedication and consecration to God. Many also abandoned sacred times and places of prayerful silence in the community houses of institutes of consecrated life, giving our houses a completely different atmosphere. Asceticism in food was also abandoned by many consecrated persons. The dining rooms in our community houses were once reserved exclusively for the members of the institute of consecrated life, as is fitting for a celibate community. This is no longer the case. And many are now promoting the ordination of women to the priesthood, although this has been definitively declared to be impossible.

The result of all this is plain for all to see-we have practically no priestly or religious vocations today in certain countries. And if we do not repent and change, it will be even worse in the future. God is patient with his vineyard, but he expects good grapes, not wild ones, and so he is little by little destroying his vineyard to punish us and wake us up so that we will repent, change, and bear good fruit. Now, then, is the time to repent.


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