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2nd Week of Lent- Offsite Staff Meeting

St. Thomas Aquinas, Baltimore

A. In these days we are focusing not merely on a project but rather on how we collaborate to carry forward evangelization-based parish & school planning. We are aiming not merely to reduce the number of outlets or mere to place them where our “customers” are – instead we are seeking to rebuild, renovate, and renew the nation’s oldest local church that in our antiquity we might be young and vital.

B. Yesterday we were reminded of the centrality of Christ in all these efforts. Today’s Scripture readings in the context of this Mass deliver the same message.

C. The first reading tells the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph wound up in Egypt and became an important official. Now, in time of famine, Joseph becomes the savior of his brothers who came to Egypt for grain. Joseph forgives his brother and gives them the food they need. Reading about Joseph, we see the image of Jesus who became a slave to set us free from our sins and who now feeds us in the Eucharist with the finest wheat, that is, his own Body and Blood. How we must open our hearts to Jesus who forgives us & entrusts to us a ministry of reconciliation. How we must open our hearts to Jesus who feeds us & asks us in turn to be instruments in meeting the physical and spiritual hunger we see all around us.

D. In the Gospel Jesus tells the story of the owner of the vineyard and the wicked tenants. The tenants refused to give the owner his share of produce. They beat and killed his agents and finally did the same thing to the owner’s son. In reality this was a story about how the leaders of the people treated the prophets God sent and how they would ultimately put to death his own Son. At first the leaders didn’t get the point that Jesus was talking about them. But when Jesus cited the psalm that speaks of the stone rejected by the builders that became the cornerstone, a light went on. It was their ancestors who killed the prophets and they were about to kill God’s Son. What’s more the priests were in the process of rebuilding the temple and in doing so they were excluding the One whom God sent to be the cornerstone, the foundation, the capstone, namely, his Son.

E. Pope Francis, like Francis of Assisi, is telling us to rebuild the church and to do so by encountering Christ, by undergoing a missionary conversion – in our persons and in our institutions, by accompanying those in need, by making of our church a field hospital… As our discussions proceed this morning may we ask for the grace not to reject the cornerstone but to root all that we do and hope to do in Christ. Only in this way can we bear the good fruit of the Gospel which God, the Father, the “owner” of the vineyard, has a right to expect of us!