TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Tending the Vineyards

As people of faith, we are asked to tend to God’s vineyard and to produce fruit that will last. This is a grave responsibility as fellow pilgrims.

It is good to be back home with the memories of our big around-the-world trip which had us travel about 65,000kms by air, sea, rail, bus, and foot. We stayed in 18 places of accommodation and crossed multiple time zones. We visited 14 countries and the continents of Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. We managed to see Antarctica from the initial plane flight to South Africa which means that the only continent not viewed was North America.

Of course, with so much travel and many experiences, we are still processing the whole trip. We are pleased that at the end of each day we covered the day’s travel blog with words and photos. This will serve to jog our memories of the many places and experiences.

I am grateful to Brendon Mannyx for posting such lovely messages to you in our Tuesday’s Dio Update and for keeping you informed as to what is happening across the diocesan community. I am also thankful that Brendon along with Louise Gannon and Rose McAllister as well as other staff members kept Pastoral Ministries functioning while I took a break. This is the longest break I have ever taken since I began working in the 1970’s and it is the longest period of time which Allen and I spent uninterrupted with each other since we got married. We enjoyed travelling together and sharing these many experiences. It was good not to be preoccupied with work commitments.

The following list is of the highlights for us on our trip: Mabula Game Reserve in South Africa, the Duomo Cathedral in Milan, Iguazú Falls in both Argentina and Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Swiss Alps, the Andes, and Split in Croatia, and just the natural environment in general.

So, as I listened to today’s readings from Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21:33-43, I was struck by the vineyard’s metaphor used in both. Allen and I have travelled the world and are aware of both the physicality of vineyards and God’s creation, and also the lesson from the vineyard’s metaphor that we, as humans and especially as Christians, may not be tending God’s vineyard well. We are so blessed to live in Australia with its natural beauty, its resources, the robust economy, the standard of living for most people, our freedom, our sense of safety, the care of people for the community, and the list goes on. God has gifted us with so much and yet so many people reject a belief system or connection to a community of faith.

As people of faith, we are asked to tend to God’s vineyard and to produce fruit that will last. This is a grave responsibility as fellow pilgrims. I don’t think I can go past the Second Reading for the weekend from the letter of St Paul to the Philippians (4:6-9). I love this reading and I hope it inspires you to pray and to live a life which brings peace, justice, mercy, and love.

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learnt from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have the responsibility to look after the vineyards with which we have been gifted. Let us pray for those who are gathered in Rome this month for the Synod on Synodality. Let us pray for the wisdom of those who are voting in the Referendum. Let us pray, especially this week, for those who are living with the impacts of mental ill-health (Today, 10 October is World Mental Health Day). The theme for this year’s Mental Health Day is “Mental Health is a universal human right”, and for NSW, “We all have a role to play.”

I am sure over the coming weeks and months I will share with you some of what I have encountered over the past six weeks.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.