The Greatest Commandment

The reading today touches at the heart of our relationship with God, and is at the heart of how we are to live as
Christians in the world. St. Augustine, as well, saw the importance of this particular teaching of Jesus. He would
say to his students that loving God, and loving your neighbor is the “guiding principle by which you can interpret
the whole of scripture…this is it”.
If we follow the law of God by the letter, it really means nothing if we do not have a love for God.
Consequently, if we truly love God, it should be impossible not to love all humanity.
I can’t help but think about Pope Francis, who at times in his pontificate has snuck out in the middle of the
night to minister to the poor and to hear confessions. He does this because his love for God and his love for
humanity are so strong, he simply can’t help himself it seems. Today’s Gospel passage is made real through the
pontiff’s actions.
I am sure you can all think of people that are examples of this, and there has been so many incredible things
that have happened because of Christians expressing their love of God, through to their love of neighbor.
However, there is so much work left to do, as there are many people living on the margins in our society.
I was speaking with someone recently about all the people of God living on the street, in our local neighborhood..
There is a guy at the Dollar Store near our parish, and he is there all the time. If you give him a donation or in the
summer my family gave him bottles of water, he will always say “thank you, and God bless you”. If you stop and
talk to him, you will find a nice and interesting man.
Another example, for me, was some time back I became aware of a student who committed suicide. She was
transgender and was rejected by family and fellow students. No one was there to help and minister to her, so she
ended her life. Sadly, it is just one example of an all too common occurrence in our schools.
A third example came from someone in a senior’s home that I took communion to. She asked me to ask my
fellow parishioners if they would come visit her, as she doesn’t get many visitors. Her family is away, and she
spends most of her time in a small room by herself. If anyone wishes to visit this nice lady, please talk to me, or
send me an e-mail.
This is an exciting time in our parish as we move from maintenance to mission. What better way to do
that than by reaching out to those in need and making this Gospel passage a reality in our lives and in the world.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald


We are dual Citizens

In the Gospel reading today, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in His
words by presenting Jesus an impossible situation. But as we know, with
God….all things are possible. The Pharisees say to Jesus: “Tell us then,
what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus
saw what they were doing and skillfully answered their question by replying
“render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the
things that are God’s.”
This scene reminds me of some biased interviews on TV lately, where
the interviewer is clearly trying to trap his guest, or at least belittle what
they are saying. I remember reading about an interview with Saint
Mother Teresa, where the interviewer was clearly skeptical about Prayer,
and Christianity. The interviewer said basically, “Do you really talk to
God?” Saint Mother Teresa said “Yes, but mainly I listen’. Then the
reporter asked, “Does God talk to you?” Mother Teresa replied “ Yes, but mainly He listens”. After a couple of
moments of awkward silence, the reporter moved on to another subject.
I feel that Jesus is saying to us that we, in a sense, are dual citizens. We have one foot in the temporal world, and
one foot in the spiritual. It is good of course to pay our taxes and be part of the world. We raise our children in this
world, and we find our spouses, and we discover nature which can be absolutely breathtaking. Take a drive to Cape
Breton in the next few days and you will see what I mean. There are many joys in the world.
However, we live in the Spiritual world as well, where at Mass and in prayer, we connect with the Father in heaven.
In fact, it is in the Mass where earth and heaven become one, and we reach perfection, and Jesus is present in our
midst. I am coming to realize that while full communion with God may be something to come in the future, the
kingdom of God truly is present to us today. Last week’s reading really highlighted that to me.
By living in the spiritual world, and living the values of Jesus, we can truly bring a lot to the temporal world.
Take for example the truth that God created us in His image and likeness. To me, that is our first and most important
truth to remember, and our dignity, along with the dignity of everyone, comes from this fact. God created us
out of love, and He wants us to love Him back. How different would the world be, if we looked at each other first
before anything else, as children of God? I feel people are missing the mark when they try to exclude God from the
public arena. The problems of the world are not just political, social, or economic, they are also spiritual. We must
remind the world that we are all children of God. God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald


The Parable’s speaking to us today
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus is sharing another parable with the people of Israel. In this instance he is
answering the question, “What is the kingdom of God like?” What is remarkable in the parable is Jesus’ ability to
speak directly to his first century audience, but also to speak to our realities today?
We first read from Isaiah 5 that the vineyard symbolizes Israel. Since the vineyard has been planted by God, it
represents the gift and love of God. Yet the vineyard also demands the labor of the farmer that enables it to produce
grapes that yield wine. It symbolizes as Fr. Rosica says in his reflection “the human response and personal effort
and the fruit of good deeds.”
If the vineyard refers to Israel, then the tenant farmers represent Israel’s religious leaders, who despite their professed
loyalty to Israel’s law, refuse to give God his due by acknowledging and accepting God’s mighty presence in
the life and mission of Jesus. It is very similar to last week’s reading where the first son accepts the mission of the
father, but later turns away from it. When successive servants are sent to the “tenants” – and killed – they heard
Jesus remind them of the habit leaders had in ignoring many of the warnings the prophets had previously announced.
The religious leaders were being criticized for ignoring their own God-sent messengers. The vineyard is Israel and
the landowner is God. This shows that everything on earth belongs to God, as he is the creator of all things. The
slaves sent to collect the produce are the prophets sent to Israel. The son whom the tenants throw out of the vineyard
and kill is Jesus, who died outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus is speaking to us today as much as He is speaking to the first century Jews. We must
focus attention not so much on what the passage has to say explicitly about Jewish leaders, but as to what it implies
about Christians. The “others” to whom the vineyard is given over in verse 41 are accountable to the owner. They
too are charged with the heavy responsibility of producing the fruits of the kingdom.. This reading compels us to
look at our lives, our attitudes and actions, in light of whether we will embrace or reject Jesus’ saving message. We
must ask: what does it say about us Christians? What is my vision of the kingdom of God? How am I producing a
harvest for God’s kingdom, in my private and in my church life? What does the parable say to me about my own
relationships with family, friends and colleagues? What does the story teach me about my inability to forgive others
and forgive myself? How do I respond to God’s boundless mercy and goodness that He offers me each day?
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald