One Minute Reflection – 14 February – “Month of the Most Blessed Trinity” – The Memorial of St Valentine (176-273) Bishop and Martyr, 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5, Matthew 20:1-16
“The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.” – Matthew 20:1
REFLECTION – “To hire labourers for his vineyard.” What is the vineyard of God here? Not men, as elsewhere; for men are called the cultivators of the vineyard. The vineyard is justice and in it different kinds of virtues are placed like vines. For example, gentleness, chastity, patience, high-mindedness and countless other good qualities, which are all in general called virtues. So let us note how earnestly we should cultivate the heavenly vineyard. Adam was put in paradise to cultivate it and work it, but because he neglected it, he was ejected from it. We have been put here to cultivate justice; if we neglect it, we will be cast out, just as the Jews also were cast out, of whom it was written: “Add iniquity to their iniquity, that they may not enter thy justice.” The fall of those going before, should be a warning for those following. But if we the followers have also fallen into ruin, those who were the first to fall, deserve pardon more than we, who follow. A hired hand placed in the vineyard will not only lose his pay if he neglects it but, he will also be charged with the loss of the abandoned vineyard! So we too, if we neglect the justice committed to us, will not only have no reward but, we will also be charged for the justice that has been abolished. For God’s vineyard is not outside us but has been planted inside our very selves. So anyone who commits sin destroys the justice of God within himself but anyone who does good works, cultivates it in himself. The well-cultivated justice of God within you, brings forth grapes, that is, Christ. For those who do just deeds form Christ in themselves, as is written: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail, until Christ be formed in you.”
Anyone who consigns a vineyard to another to work consigns it, not so much for the other’s benefit, as for his own but God, giving His justice to our understanding, gave it, not for His own benefit but for ours. God does not need our labour but we, who do just work, may live because of it. The owner who consigned the vineyard to someone else for his own benefit, expects to receive it back in the same condition as He handed it over. How then will justice not be demanded back from us, in as immaculate a condition as He created it in us, particularly as He gave it, not for His own benefit but for our salvation?
Be aware that we have been hired as labourers. If we have been hired as labourers, we ought to know what our tasks are, for a hired labourer cannot be without a task. Our tasks are the works of justice, not to till our fields and vineyards; not to amass riches and pile up honours but to benefit our neighbours. And although we can do this tilling and amassing without sin, yet they are not our tasks but our daily occupations.
No-one hires a labourer to work, only so that the labourer may eat. So we too have been called by Christ, to do, not merely what pertains to our own benefit but, to do what pertains, to the glory of God. The hired hand, who only works so that he may fill his belly, wanders purposelessly about the house. So we too, if we do only what pertains to our benefit, live without reason on the earth. And just as the hired hand first looks to his work and then to his wages, so we too are Christ’s hired hands and first ought to look at what pertains to God’s glory and to the benefit of our neighbours …. Charity and true love toward God “does not insist on its own way” but desires to perform everything to the wish of the Beloved—than to what pertains to our own benefit.” – An anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew (Sermon 34).
PRAYER – O glorious advocate and protector, St Valentine,
look with pity upon our wants,
hear our requests,
attend to our prayers,
relieve by your intercession,
the miseries under which we labour
and obtain for us the divine blessing,
that we may be found worthy
to join you in praising the
Almighty for all eternity:
through the merits of
Our Lord Jesus Christ.