Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bad Laws and Rotten Fruit: 27th Sunday OT (Cycle A)

   This week all priests and deacons in our diocese received a very unusual email from archbishop Lori. It specifically asked us to preach about a piece of legislation that is slowly moving towards enactment in the Maryland legislature. Perhaps you have heard of this bill, it is trying to legalize Assisted Suicide in Maryland. If approved it will not require that the patient have a prior relationship with the doctor prescribing the lethal dose of drugs, and therefore no way for the doctor to recognize if the patient is under the undue influence of a family member or caretaker. Patients will not be required to receive a mental health screening for depression before they receive the lethal prescription. No family notification will be required. No medical professional or witness of any kind will be required to be present when the lethal dose is taken. It even allows people to get their lethal prescription at the local pharmacy, making pharmacists silent contributors to this great evil.

    With everything that has been happening in the last few weeks, the catastrophic hurricanes in the south and the Caribbean and the rampage in Vegas; I have to admit sometimes it feels as if the Lord has given up on our country.
   We live in a world in which death can happen in our own homes, or even while we're just listening to music at a concert and soon, if this bill passes, we will live in a state where instead of finding ways of protecting those who are vulnerable and suffering, the state resorts to cheapening the dignity of human life by encouraging and facilitating suicides. I listen to the words in today's first reading and have to admit...that vineyard that was left to grow among the brambles and thorns sounds awfully similar to us.

   And yet,  even in a reading like this, we see God’s love for his people. Let me show you, as I was reflecting in this reading it occurred to me that, the owner of this vineyard does something rather peculiar. You see, when one plants a garden, if for some reason this garden gives no product the logical step is to uproot all the plants until the ground is completely bare, till it, and then wait for the new season and plant new seeds. The owner of this vineyard doesn’t do this, he just lets the planted grapevines grow, even if they are among thorns and brambles. It is as if the owner knows very well that there is something good still growing. In fact even after abandoning this vineyard this gardener calls it “My cherished plant”.

   My brothers and sisters the Lord has not abandoned us. You, me, the people of Maryland, America, the whole world... is precious to Him. In the midst of bad laws, tragedies and calamities, this vineyard which yields no fruit is still good and cherished by the gardener. It is up to us, the ones who have been placed in the middle of all this turmoil to find a way of producing some fruit. How do we do this? Well by using one of Father Mike’s favorite phrases: By making good use of our time, talent and treasure. We can volunteer our time to help those that are close to us, so that resources can be freed to help Texas, Florida, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico. We can donate money for the reconstruction of these areas or to honor the memory of those who died. We can use our talents to contact our elected officials and let them know that suicide, even if it is allowed by the state, is a crime against the dignity of every citizen of Maryland.

    As members of the body of Christ it might look like our prayers, efforts and voices go unnoticed, but remember, the Gardener knows His vineyard, He knows the potential each one of us have. Even if we grow among all the brambles and thorns the world throws at us, this vine is getting strong, growing deep roots.

   Jesus's words in the Gospel gives us assurance of this fact, the stone the builder rejected will become the cornerstone, this is something the Lord will do by His own hand, and it will be a clear miracle to all who sees the crop of His beloved vineyard. GBMBAS