In Right Relationship – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily October 4, 2020

“You know, I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit in my short amount of time on Earth. I’ve been able to travel a lot. People usually take vacations or to travel to rest to kind of refresh themselves or to even get a different perspective. I love to travel to get different perspective to bring back to my life. I’ve been fortunate to travel to 15 or 17 different country and I’ve traveled to South America throughout the United States through Canada a lot through Europe. I’ve been able to travel to the Holy Land, Israel and many countries in Asia, but one of the places that I love to travel is in Asia. One of the reasons why is because it’s not like here, America, at all. Let me see a raise of hands, who here has traveled to Asia? (Well it was a lot more people here than at the 4:30 Mass yesterday!) Now a raise of hands, who’s traveled to Europe? So, often time a lot of people in America travel to Europe, but I always find that going to Europe, it is different, but in some ways if you really think about it it’s still very westernized. You can get by and almost pretend it’s America, just a different part of the country. You can even get by probably by speaking English, but the one thing I like about going to Asia or some place that’s completely different from America is that nothing is the same. You immerse yourself in the culture, the language, the food, the people and the thing is that it forces me to humble myself before where I’m at and in doing so everything is an adventure. Even going down the street to the grocery store is an adventure. Even meeting other people, just ordinary people is an adventure. Everything is an adventure, but the reason why I think it changes my perspective because it shows me that nothing in life is in my control and it forces me to recognize that, that nothing is in my control in front of me in this country. I might not know the language. I don’t even know how to read the menu. I don’t know the people. I don’t know how the culture is here and so it forces me to take a stance of humility to humble myself before the things before me but in doing so it makes me feel grateful, feel grateful for everything there. That is the stance we should have in our life. It’s a stance of humility. It might not be traveling for you, but for some people they find great peace in nature going out to the mountains or camping and in some sense it does the same thing. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control nature, so it forces you to humble yourself before it. God calls us to humble ourselves before Him so that we can accept His grace so that we will live fully, be grateful in our lives and I’ve experienced that by traveling. How do you experience that? What forces you to be humble to accept what’s before you to change your perspective.

In today’s first reading talks about the vineyard and every time they talk about the vineyard in scriptures and even in the ancient times of Jerusalem they all knew that when they spoke about the vineyard they were talking about the chosen people of Israel, the chosen people, but in the first reading it says, ‘The owner of the vineyard he dug up this land. He made it great. He used choice vines. He built a hedge around it to protect it, so he did all these great things for the people of Israel, the vineyard itself, but what happened? When it came time, the grapes were sour. They were wild. They couldn’t use it to make good wine and in some ways in our life we squander, we’re not good stewards of time, we’re not good stewards of creation, we don’t follow God’s will and what happens in the first reading at the end? Everything is kind of destroyed, but don’t take this as if God is spiteful  and he’s doing it. It’s more of like a spiritual physics. It happens when you don’t follow the will of God where your true desire is, things don’t come out the way they should. For instance, I like living in the Midwest because we have the four seasons and right now we’re going into fall and then soon winter, but it makes me appreciate each season. During the winter season if I went outside and I wasn’t going to have it and I just said, I’m just going to wear a t-shirt because I’m sick of this winter and I’m not going to have it. It wouldn’t really work out that well would it to go outside and spite the world and spite God to say, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’ But in God’s time and even in nature it causes us to humble ourselves before the things of our world to use it in right relationship to be good stewards of it and when we do so even our lives become conformed to it, so again it’s kind of like that.

In the Gospel reading again it talks about the vineyard and it says this time, ‘The owner sends his servants but they kill them. He sent his son hoping that they would listen to him, but they even take him and kill him.’ The same thing with God, God has sent his prophets among us and some never listened as well as sending his only son, Jesus, and we crucified him. Now the reading and the Gospel today, it’s kind of bleak so where is the Gospel? The Gospel is always the Good News of God, the message that inspires hope for us. God has planted this vineyard for us. We’re the new people of Israel St. Paul always says and at time, yes, maybe we don’t go along with God’s grace, but the thing is that at the very end of the Gospel Jesus says, ‘Haven’t you heard in scripture that the stone rejected by the builders has become it’s cornerstone that there will be a new chosen people.’ and that is us. God has given us many things. He’s given us the sacraments. He’s given us the Sacraments. He’s given us our Church, the teachings. Will we cooperate with it? Not only that, the cornerstone of which we build our faith is the Eucharist. Vatican II said that it is the source and summit of our faith. Not only that, the Eucharist its very self is in the form of food, of bread, food for ourselves nurtures the whole body not just one part of the body. We need sustenance to rejuvenate our whole body to be in full union of ourselves. In a spiritual way the communion helps us to nurture and sustain our lives so that we can be in full communion with the whole world, with creation, with the whole body of Christ, the mystical body of Christ which is all of us and with the body of Christ communion we can be in communion with God our creator, with nature, with one another, with ourselves, but only if we take the stance of humility to humble ourselves before God to say that maybe we don’t know everything but not to fight it. Oftentimes we do have that tension, the tension of our own egos, the tension of grasping at what we think we know is right, but if you come to the Eucharist today where Christ is truly present before you, acknowledge those times that we have those tensions in our hearts, humble ourselves before the Lord and receive Him, then He will start to continue to nurture and sustain our lives to open our eyes just like traveling might do for me or going out in nature would do for you so that we can see the whole world as one whole and not just kind of blindsided to one. As you do that, let us give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ today. Amen.”