Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has come to His people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour, Born of the house of His servant David. Through His holy prophets He promised of old, That He would save us from our enemies, From the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers And to remember His holy Covenant.
This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham: To set us free from the hands of our enemies, Free to worship Him without fear, holy and righteous in His sight All the days of our life. You, My child shall be called the prophet of the Most High, For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, To give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our Lord the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, And to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and will be forever. Amen.
…from the Canticle of Zachariah
I always loved this prayer as it gives me hope everytime I pray it. I think about a God who blesses us abundantly with so many things. Whose generosity goes beyond our scope of reasoning and whose love abounds far greater that we can ever imagine.
As I was praying this prayer in my morning recitation of the Office of Readings in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I started feeling chills regarding how immense God’s grace is there for me. Even though my journey on this road is filled with both joys and strifes, hills and valleys, I am confident that my God is present in my journey. Just a couple days ago, the mass readings spoke about the parable of the workers in the vineyard (see Matthew 20:1-16). In this parable, the master needs workers to work in his vineyard, and so he finds some at 6 AM and asks them to work in the vineyard for one Denarius. After awhile, he goes out again at 9:00 AM and searches for more laborers to work in his vineyard. Then he repeats the process over and over again at 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM and finally at 6:00 PM. At the end of the day, he brings in the workers who worked at 6:00 PM and gives them one Denarius. The workers who worked earlier (especially the ones who worked at 6:00 AM) are extremely happy thinking that they’ll be paid more that just one Denarius… but to no avail. When each of them come to receive their wage, they get, in fact, just one Denarius. Immediately a “grumbling” arises amongst those workers but then is silenced by the master who says whole heartedly, “Do you begrudge my generosity”?
Many times in life, we do the right thing, however, many times in our lives we find ourselves asking for “reasonable payment” for the right thing we do. An honest day’s work expects an honest day’s wage. But here is the twist when it comes to God. We have been given work to do in His vineyard and we come to the vineyard based upon our own free will and choose to work there (whether it be at 6 in the morning or 6 in the evening). Yet we are not working for a certain stature of eternal life with God, we do not say to ourselves, “Well, Tony, 100 good deeds should equal a place in the penthouse apartment in Heaven”. No, most certainly not, we are all working to get to Heaven.
And whether we come to this epiphany during our early years (6:00 AM) or during our twilight years (6:00 PM), God doesn’t mind, he accepts us all. In Luke 15:1-7, The shepherd and the community rejoices that the sheep is found. God wants us badly to be with Him in Heaven. That’s why he sent His only Son to die for us so that we could live. Far be it for us to judge one another and say to one that they are unworthy to enter the kingdom. Face it, we all are unworthy… but Christ is the key. He is the gate, the door, the entrance to unlimited grace and mercy and salvation through Him and there lies our hope (John 10:1-10).
So how do we get there? What’s the plan? What’s the path? All of us have different paths in our lives, but we all can communicate with our Savior through prayer. Take for instance the opening prayer of this post. The Canticle of Zachariah. It talks about how great and blessed a God we have who has come to take away the darkness in this world and fill us with eternal light. I especially love the final words of the prayer as it gives me a good focus to begin my day:
“In the tender compassion of our Lord the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, And to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
That tells me, that as I labor in the vineyard for my one Denarius to have hope, because my labor will never be for naught, rather, I will receive the fair and just wage aportioned to me by the Master if I continue to trust, and hope and believe in Him. And the “vineyard”, the world, will come to know Christ and his salvific promise as I lead all He puts in my “plot” closer to Him.
How do you pray? I tried something a couple of days ago which had an incredible effect on me. When I was praying, I opened my hands upward instead of clamping them together. For me it did two things, it put me in a posture of surrender, full surrender to God’s will, and it also lifted all my trials, my setbacks to Him who is our Redeemer and Healer. It was a wonderful excercise and I was overcome with emotion when I did that. What a blessing I received when I finished my prayer. He truly is an awesome God.
Try it sometime when your praying. Open your hands upward and close your eyes and tell God how you’re doing in His vineyard.
And remember, it’s not at what time we started working in the “vineyard”. It’s the “one Denarius” that we’re all working towards that is the most important aspect of our earthly lives.
So… are we ready to give it our all…for “one Denarius”?