Sermon given by Father Pancras Raja February 9th, 2020.
“Go you also into my vineyard …. The last shall be first – and the first last – for many are called, but few chosen” (Mt. 20: 16)
Holy Mother Church begins today (Septuagesima Sunday) her preparation for the feast of Easter. The somber colour of the vestments and the subdued tone of the liturgy without Gloria and Alleluia remind us that the season of penance is close at hand. The gospel today calls our attention to the vocation of those who are called (1) by Baptism to be admitted in the vineyard of his holy Church, and (2) our vocation to labour with him our Apostolic work.
The reception of Baptism is not only the liberation from original sin, it is also an admission into the vineyard of the Lord, and imposes upon us the obligation of faithfully serving the Master and of living our lives for God. Therefore, we should know more about this great Sacrament.
1. Baptism: Its nature and Institution
The meaning of baptism:
Baptism means washing. The passing of the Jews through the waters of the Red Sea signifies the Christians passing through the water of baptism, are being washed from the bondage of original sin.
Baptism is called the sacrament of faith. By it we profess our faith in the doctrines of Christianity.
Baptism is called Christening. It makes one a Christian.
Baptism is called purgation, burial etc. by St. Paul. By it we die and are buried to sin.
Baptism is the beginning if Christian life. It is the beginning of the most holy commandments. “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them …. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat. 28: 19, 20)
Baptism is defined as the Sacrament of regeneration by water in the words of Christ.
The constituent elements of Baptism:
The matter of Baptism is natural water of any kind. According to the law of the Church, Holy Chrism and Oil of Catechumens are mingled with the baptismal water.
Baptism may be administered by immersion, sprinkling or pouring, since in any one of these ways the effect of the sacrament is signified. (Acts 2: 41; 16: 33)
The form of Baptism: The Words of Christ “I baptize thee in he name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost” constitutes the form of Baptism.
In case of necessity any person can administer Bptism.
The institution of Baptism:
Baptism was foretold by Our Lord to Nicodemus (Jn. 3).
It was instituted when Our Lord himself was baptized in the Jordan.
Its use began when Christ and his disciples were baptizing (Jn 3:4)
The Sacrament of Baptism became of absolute necessity when Our Lord expired on the cross.
The necessity of Baptism was proclaimed by the saviour after the resurrection (Mt. 28: 19) and its solemn promulgation took place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 38, 39).
2. Our vocation to Apostolic work
Yes, we are all called by the master of the vineyard to labour for the salvation of souls! If the master is to visit us today – would he find us engaged in our labour? Or would he address to us the reproach: “Why stand you here all day idle?”
Not only in the morning – but also at the third, the sixth, the ninth, and the eleventh hours the master went out to call the labourers in to his vineyard. It signifies the calling given by God to each of us individually, pressing us to labour during this life for the kingdom of God – the salvation and sanctification of ourselves and other souls.
The morning hour is our childhood
The sixth our is our youth
The ninth hour of midday is our manhood
The eleventh hour of sunset is our old age.
The master calls us for labour at all these various stages – we must go that very hour – we should not put off our starting work – the conversion of heart – for a later stage – because no one has guaranteed that we should live till the eleventh hour. Whether the time to work for our sanctification be long or short is a matter known to God alone!
And God measures our service not by length of years, but by the perfection of our love and by the purity of our intention! Many Saints like Aloysius Conzaga, Dominic Savio, John Berchmans, Maria Goretti, Teresa of Child Jesus and so on – have accomplished great things for God and achieved high sanctity in a very short time. Like them, may we not lose a single opportunity of glorifying God and saving souls during the brief day of our labour in the Lord’s vineyard!
The mystery of mercy
There is a mystery of mercy shown by God in this parable! The labourers who were called at the last hour and worked for only one hour – have been treated equal to the others who labored for the whole day! Maybe it was due to the urgency of the work which demanded more workers to gather the fruits before the night fall.
Yes, there is an urgency of gathering the souls before the general apostacy causes great destruction! Therefore, the call of “the latter time apostle” or “the slaves of Our Lady” as they are called by the prophecy of St. Louis De Montfort, demands more labourers in the vineyard now more than ever before!
Let us, therefore, enter without delay, in to the vineyard by making a total consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and by living the consecration by constant prayer and penance, realizing the obligation of our vows made in Baptism to renounce Satan and all his works and pomps.Thus, by practicing complete detachment form the spirit of the world and from all sin and sinful occasions, let us come forward to labour with Our Lady for the salvation and sanctification of souls, which would be the realization of the triumph of her immaculate Heart – that the kingdom of Christ may come in our country and in the whole world!