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Worship ends service begins

By: Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

In the gospel of this 27th Sunday, we read Jesus’ parable of how the heir of the vineyard was badly treated by the tenants. The parable refers first to the servants representing the prophets before the coming of Jesus Christ sent by the vineyard owner (God) to collect the harvest.

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But they were not only rejected but even killed. Then he sent the heir referring to Jesus but was also mistreated and killed outside the vineyard (referring to his crucifixion outside Jerusalem).

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The parable is a thinly-veiled attack against the Jewish leaders’ who were then plotting to kill him. Though addressed to the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, the parable just as well serves as a warning for every Christian and every one of us.

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For instance, we Filipinos have been blessed with the Christian faith. We may not be rejecting outright the heir (Jesus) since Filipinos are generally prayerful and God-fearing.

It’s been noted, however, that religion for most Catholics is merely conventional or ritualistic like attending Sunday Masses and receiving Holy Communion. No doubt, this is good but does our piety stop there?

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I recall what a reader of my columns Ms. M. Layumas from San Carlos City, Negros Occidental wrote some years ago thus: “I’ve been wondering what the Church really meant about a Christian community. I think it is not only a worshipping community but one acting out God’s love in the service of others. If the Christians of old cared for one another that no one among them was found wanting, why can’t the Christians of today follow after their example?

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“From what I most generally see, there are a lot of worshippers but there are only a few Tom Dooleys or Mother Teresa’s who care for the poor, the sick and the suffering.

“Where there is displacement and destitution, can’t the Church leaders unite and collaborate with one another and do the deeds of charity in concrete action?”

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To be true Christians, we should “bear fruits of good works” in daily life. What we do in Church should not be separated from our day-to-day dealings and conduct.

Jesus condemns in strong words against such a split type of piety when he castigated hypocritical Pharisees, saying:

“How terrible for you teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You give to God one-tenth even in the seasoning herbs…but you neglected the really important teaching of the law such as justice, mercy and honesty” (Mt 23,23).

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In the New Testament, WORSHIP and SERVICE are intimately linked. This is why our coming together for prayer and meditation is often called “worship service.” Worship ends when the final blessing is pronounced, but the end of worship is the beginning of service.

Thus the celebrant says at the end of the Mass: “Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and one another.”

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INDIGENT SICK. In light of today’s gospel message on bearing fruit of good works, I am appealing for help on behalf of some indigent sick like Dante Cabansag and Fr. Ruben Mamuad, and others including one who has Stage 3 cancer.

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For inquiries, e-mail me at: belsvd@gmail.com.

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