Thus says the LORD:
On that day I will raise up
the fallen hut of David;
I will wall up its breaches,
raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
Yes, days are coming,
says the LORD,
When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
and the vintager, him who sows the seed;
The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains,
and all the hills shall run with it.
I will bring about the restoration of My people Israel;
they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities ~ Amos 9: 11; 13 – 14
For much of the past months, it has seemed as if every structure in my country is being torn down, every belief attacked and shattered. I returned to work some weeks ago and to my sadness, found that the weeks of stay-home had not made better persons out of all of us. Colleagues who had been bitter and who had chafed at the constraints of lockdown, now returned to raucous revelry, grimly intent on reclaiming lost time.
Over the years, as more and more of my workmates became increasingly distracted from their core portfolios and responsibilities, the noise levels at work had been rising, fed by daily office potlucks, gossip cliques and online shopping addiction which steadily made inroads into formal work hours and beyond.
But the post-Covid noise decibels in my work place now is beyond belief. Too many are high on something not good. Work is a farce. Silence has fled.
I brought upon you such upheaval
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah:
you were like a brand plucked from the fire;
Yet you returned not to Me,
says the LORD. ~ Amos 4: 11
I am struggling and yet, paradoxically, I am working well too. Even as I fight to put out one fire after another within my heart, my work is not held back in the least.
But there’s no escaping the deepening frustration and sadness at the scale of moral destruction before my eyes. In my work place. In my country. I can see where this is going. We are fast reaching a point of no return. Something in my heart tells me that once that invisible line is crossed, there will be no coming back. In each one of those rabble rousers at work and elsewhere, there are yet morsels of sweetness.
But if a major correction does not come soon enough, even that will be lost.
When the last light within them goes out, I fear that no other light will live in its place.
When I took this to Jesus, His surprising answer to my distress was,
My Time has come. I am about to bring to fulfilment my plan for you and for those whom I have sent you. My Eucharistic Face will shine over this new hour of building… ~ In Sinu Jesu
He did not speak about the rising squalls. Yet, I know Jesus is not ignoring the ruin we are bringing ourselves to. Through the In Sinu Jesu words which lit hope in me, Jesus is clearly asking me to shift the gaze of my heart to what I am called to. He is not advocating the indifference of the deaf ear nor of the blind eye to the massive unravelling around me; instead, because of it, Jesus wants me to be in my place, doing what He has willed for me.
This is not the first time I am hearing this. I have lost count of the number of occasions, when upset over developments in my part of the world, He has sent His Angel to remind me that my place is
Not in the violent winds
Not in the earthquakes
Not in the fire
but in the hiddenness of the presence of God. In the Eucharistic Adoration I am called to – even in the busyness of work.
This is not due to anything of merit in me – but simply because Jesus knows well my weaknesses. I don’t handle confrontations well. I am easily intimidated. And it takes me longer than others to recover from battles. For other stronger souls, He might have earmarked the vineyards of greater work right in the midst of violent winds and earthquakes and raging fires.
But not for me – because I’d drown.
Or more likely, drown others.
Often, I do feel hurt that God hasn’t marked out ‘greater work’ for me. Often, I tire of the hiddenness and obscurity of my own little vineyard. But many years ago, God made it clear,
If you cannot on the ocean
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you meet;
You can stand among the sailors,
Anchored yet within the bay,
You can lend a hand to help them
As they launch their boats away. ~ Your Mission, Ellen M. H Gates
My work is as ever, among the shadows of greater suns.
Still, today, He lifts the veil a little.
My Time has come
…this new hour of building
Something is ahead. Something different from the usual rebuilding of torn down structures. A newness to the coming hours. Slowly, it dawns on me that the recent weeks of being buffeted by lashing winds didn’t affect my quality of work – because God was trying to show me that was my place, to steadily build on but to build by the sidelines of life. Not in the centre of a field easily sighted; but in the purposeful hiddenness to be seen only by those who are seeking.
In Jesus’ gentle way, He wants me to learn that I am not placed in the open fields to catch the eye of the multitudes because I am not meant to be there for everyone. My vineyard is only for the wounded, the trampled, the weak, the fearful.
Those who are not looking up, searching for suns, but whose gaze is cast down. Those are the ones God has given to me. The broken and the hurt. The humble and the hidden.
That is why no other vineyard will do but this.