THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
20 February 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Our Lord calls out to us all to come and labor in His vineyard. He calls out to us all but, there are many who are unwilling to heed the first call so they must wait idly until they are of a better disposition and then perhaps God will call them at a later hour. Many are called but few are chosen because few will heed the call.
Even among those who heed God’s call, there are different grades and stations. Not all are equal, even though they all receive the same reward of salvation. Some come early, others come late, and many come in-between. Some must be sanctified over a long period while others only take a short while, and many are somewhere in-between. Though all receive the same denarius of salvation their richness in heaven is not all the same.
There are many mansions in heaven. Those who were faithful over little things are given greater things in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who were not faithful -- what little they had is taken away. (Matt 25, 23)
The least will become the greatest, while the greatest will become the least. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18, 4). God Himself became the least of men to show us the means of pleasing Him and gaining the grace of salvation. The greatest becomes the servant for the least.
Our Lord is showing us that what men see as important or fair is quite different from what God thinks is important and fair. From our limited perspective it appears unfair to reward everyone the same regardless of how long they worked. What we cannot see though is the intentions of the worker or the effort or love that each worker puts forth. This God sees and He judges this justly because we cannot. Another way to look at this is to consider it from the perspective of eternity. Will heaven be any less heaven if one were to enter earlier or later, before or after another? When in eternity there is no longer any consideration of time because all is present. So what we consider to be first or last on earth is irrelevant in heaven.
There is no envy in heaven. All are completely happy. What we should be striving for here on earth is an increase of charity. We are not to be considering how we can do the least and obtain the greatest reward; on the contrary, we should be considering how we can do the most in the way of charity and still hope to obtain the least place in heaven.
The thinking and acting of the Catholic laborer is very different than the thinking and acting of the worldly laborer. The worldly laborer seeks to do as little as possible and gain the greatest reward as possible. We hear them say that they want work but it is not work that they want but rather a position or income. With the prevalence of this type of thinking we see ever increasing cold and calculating selfishness. The lack of manners and respect for one another in our daily transactions shows the pitiful results. The ideal of the Catholic is that he is constantly mindful that he must labor for the love of God. He purifies and sanctifies his labor in this manner. As he does this he destroys so many detestable vices of greed, envy, jealousy, etc. This motivating work ethic is but a small reflection of the spiritual ethic that motivates all that he thinks, speaks and does.
These are the workers who are called to work in the Lord’s vineyard. Some are called earlier because some receive the grace earlier. Some are called later because some receive the grace later. Many never hear the call because they are not really looking to work. Many will read this parable and begin a cold and calculating plan of how they can be among those who only had to work one hour. They have no real love for God or for His work or vineyard. This uncharitable selfishness will more than likely keep them from ever entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let us not focus upon the reward for our labors – for in all truth we do not deserve a reward for the pitiful little that we do; on the contrary, what we deserve is punishment because we have been such unprofitable servants. What we must focus upon is loving God and serving Him with all our being at every instant of our lives. In this manner it becomes a joy to serve God in all circumstances whether painful or pleasurable. We find joy in God’s goodness whether it is shown directly to us or to others. The good servant finds pleasure in seeing that God is pleased regardless of his own self-interest. Love has caused him to forget himself. In this manner we will be loved by God and not only offered work in His vineyard but will find an eternal reward with Him in heaven.