Workers in the Vineyard

John Brooks
Thursday, October 24, 2019

Our job as oblates: engage the world

God told Abraham to leave the land of your ancestors and go to a land I will show you. All we are guaranteed in this life is an adventure. It is a wonderful thing to be guaranteed. When you were born, God said I am going to put you in a place where you do not know what is coming and you have the freedom and capacity to make choices to change your community and the world to make them better.

Our adventure as oblates began at our investiture, where we were planted as seeds in the vineyard of Saint Meinrad. During our novice year, we were nurtured and cultivated by the monks and fed by the lessons of our Holy Father, St. Benedict. Through our oblation, our promises of stability of heart, fidelity to the spirit of the monastic life, and obedience to the will of God, we were transplanted to our communities and the world.

In our communities and our world, we plant the seeds of compassion, understanding, forgiveness, kindness, happiness, joy and love. The seeds we plant are not just passive words, but rather are our acts of sacrifice and service to others, putting others’ needs before our own. They are the example of the life we live: “Our way of acting should be different from the world’s way” (RB 4:20).

Fed by prayer, service, study and self-care, we engage our communities and the world. Sometimes we are met by a world filled with pain, suffering and misery. We are called to engage with it in compassion, comfort and kindness. Sometimes we are met by a world filled with anger, confusion and violence. We are to engage with understanding, knowledge and forgiveness. Sometimes we are met by a world filled with happiness, joy and love. Treasure it, encourage it and thank God for it.

Joan Chittister, in her book A Spirituality for the 21st Century, tells the tale of the old master and his student. The old master says God loves sinners. The student questions, “How can that be?” The master replies, God in heaven holds each of us by a string. When we sin, we cut the string. God gathers the ends and ties a knot, bringing us a little nearer.

Again and again, we cut the string. Again and again, God reties the string bringing us closer and closer to Him. It is a wonderful teaching about our loving and forgiving God who only wants us to be closer to Him. It is also a wonderful teaching about engaging our world.

Each time we reach out to a neighbor in need and offer help, each time we reach out to a neighbor who is suffering or in pain and offer comfort, each time we reach out to a neighbor who has wronged us and offer forgiveness, each time we find a neighbor who is lost and help them to find their way, and each time we welcome a stranger, we knot the string that binds us.

Each act draws us a little closer and encourages us with the hope that strengthens our communities and our world.

Learn more about our oblate program