20Sep 20 September, 2020. 25th Sunday, Year A

20 September, 2020. 25th Sunday, Year A

1st Reading: Isaiah 55:6-9

Turn to the Lord in urgent prayer; for he never ignores the prayer of the humble

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Responsorial: Psalm 144:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

R./: The Lord is near to all who call him

I will bless you day after day
and praise your name for ever.
The Lord is great, highly to be praised,
his greatness cannot be measured. (R./)

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures. (R./)

The Lord is just in all his ways
and loving in all his deeds.
He is close to all who call him,
who call on him from their hearts. (R./)

2nd Reading: Philippians 1:20-24, 27

Though Paul wants to be with Christ in heaven, he will serve the Gospel as long as God wills it

It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

The parable of the workers in the vineyard; God welcomes all into his kingdom

Jesus said to his disciples: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.’

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.

Now when the first came they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

BIBLE

Only God sees the full picture

The core of the Gospel parable is also in the Isaiah passage: “My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Try as we may, it is impossible to justify the payment of the workers in the vineyard in ordinary social terms. It could hardly be said to be fair. Yes, the owner is generous to the last comers, but why is he not generous to the others as well? It is simply that there is no reckoning up deserts when man meets God.

In Our Lord’s time Judaism had reached a legalistic state, and the mentality was prevalent that salvation could and must be earned. There were many commands which must be fulfilled, and people were divided into two classes, the righteous who were on the road to salvation by fulfilling the commands, and the unrighteous, outcasts despised by those who kept the law. It was this slot-machine conception of God that Jesus opposed by his emphasis on love, for in love there is no calculation of duties, rights and obligations; there is only an open-handed giving without counting the cost, and a grateful receiving. We can never say that we have earned our salvation, or anything from God, but can only stand suppliant before him. The latest workers in the vine-yard have not earned what the owner gives them, and the mistake of their envious colleagues is to think that they can deserve well of the owner.

Devout Christians may find it hard to stomach that someone who repents on his deathbed is admitted to the kingdom no less than those who have struggled and suffered all their lives for what is right. But this would presuppose a commercial attitude of reward and punishments from God, and it neglects the nature of love. The relationship of the believer to God must be personal love, and as such it is its own reward, for it brings its own happiness also in this life. The greater the struggle, the more a Christian turns to God and finds comfort in the security of his love. Also, fidelity through a long life does bring some advantage over a skimpy final conversion, for it may well be that the relationship of love has so deepened over the years that the Christian, faithfully following Christ, has more capacity for the full enjoyment of God’s company than one who comes to know God only at the last moment. Here it is not a matter of God giving a greater reward, but of the person being more capable of receiving it.

Of this joyful relationship with God Paul was a shining example. While threatened with persecution he is filled with the joy of Christ. His life is already united with Christ’s life, and he longs for the fulfilment of final union.

The parable of the vineyard-workers is no blueprint for labour relations, but it illustrates very well Jesus’ teaching about grace and mercy. There are consequences to be drawn, and, in The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis wrote: “The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.” (§114)


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2 Responses

  1. Kevin Walters

    For me the parable about the workers in the vineyard is about our own personal presumption before God’s Divine Mercy (Compassion/’Generosity’), hence “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” ……..“So, likewise, ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do”

    There are no Vineyards in Leeds but nevertheless even to this day labours stand in the City Centre waiting to be hired. In the fifties and sixties I was aware of many Irishmen standing outside Public Houses waiting to be hired for work in the construction industry, the custom was to congregate at about 7-30 am and wait to be hired for the day, I know this because on a few occasions I had participated in this ritual.

    Different employers would turn up and offer a standard rate and then select those he wanted, some workers would be known to him, others not, in choosing he would choose those who appeared more capable of performing a hard day of labour, there was always joy on the face of anyone chosen, this joy would often dissipate during the day due to the drudgery of the work.

    As the morning progressed it could be said that the weaker, impaired, aged, etc were left and some would wait all day in the hope of employment, which at times was occasional offered, later in the day. It was quite apparent in comparison to those original chosen, the value that these late arrivals placed upon the call to work, in accepting in humility their own physical shortcomings, their ‘gratitude’ was manifest before all,

    On one occasion while working on a building site, where the work was found to be behind schedule, about half a dozen late arrivals were transported onto the site. Word circulated that they were to be paid the same full day rate as the rest of us, which inflamed anger and resentment in some/many.

    This same scenario would have applied in our Lords time and many workers who heard the parable instantly would have been drawn towards the ‘generosity’ of the landowner, in his compassion towards the afflicted but also to the selfishness of those who complained, as they had taken for granted the good fortune of their own abilities (in forgetting He who gave them, to them), while begrudging the weak and vulnerable the opportunity to earn a living (Participate in the harvest) and ‘live’

    So “The first shall be last and the last first” as only God sees the full picture of our gratitude before the generosity of His divine Mercy.

    “Not one iota will pass from the law until all is accomplished”, we ‘all’ fall short in regards to this teaching which can only be embraced in humility as humility permits us to walk His Way in the ‘generosity’ His continual Divine Mercy.

    We can align God’s generosity with “Who Is Forgiven Much Loves Much”. … On the other hand, those who are forgiven little, as Jesus said, “love little”
    So “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?

    When God’s ‘Generosity’/Mercy/pardon is received in humility/honesty it compels us to pardon (Be less judgemental towards) others, as it goes to the heart of our faith, which is that Christ forgives, that we may love (Forgive) also, while we walk in ‘humility’ before Him, wanting for others that which we have been given ourselves, His known gift of Divine Mercy, because is that not what Christianity is all about.

    If we struggle with love/forgiveness of others, it could be said that this rigidity stems from our own dishonest ungrateful hearts, as this attitude emanates from self-righteousness, as possibly we underestimated the ‘generosity’ of Jesus Christ in our own personal salvation; as to attempt to embrace our Father in the Truth of His Inviolate Word (Will) can only be accomplished in humility (Self-abasement before Him)

    A faith that does not embody this consistent realization, will be sterile, comparable a stylus stuck in the grove of a record, as the heart will not hear/absorb the full transforming message of Spiritual enlightenment, that is the ongoing transformation of the human heart. I know this from personal experience, because my own heart was stuck in a grove over so many years.

    Is it not in the self-knowledge of our own individual need of His ‘continual’ Mercy that induces within us a humble heart, as a human heart of self-abasement before God, creates a tender compassionate heart towards our neighbour?

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Thara Benedicta

    Key message:
    God says
    1. Do not worry when you do not have the requirements for your life; Do what you can do and trust me.
    2. Do not worry when others get more than you. Focus on building your future. Be happy and trust me to fulfil all your wishes.

    Homily:

    Old testament tells about the life of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob.
    He was the most favoured son of his Father Jacob. Hence his brothers were all jealous of him. They threw him into a well, sold him as a slave. He became the lead-in-charge of the rich person of the land. Due to his integrity to God, he was falsely accused and put to jail. From the jail he landed on the throne, second only to the king. His brothers who hated him, now bowed down to him.

    What a testimony to run life, just with God!!

    All along Joseph’s life, he was trying to do good. But he faced difficulties one after the other. Instead of worrying, he kept trusting in God to take care of him. All he could do in the depth of the dark well, in the travel to Egypt as a slave and within the walls of the prison as a criminal, was to seek God’s face. In God, he found comfort and a trustworthy friend.

    Takeaway from first reading:

    When God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, why are we even trying to deeply think and worry about our problems? As God is our loving Father, He will solve all our problems!! We may not be even sure that we are creating the problems by our own doings or God is working on making us a better person.

    God always has great plans for us. Even if we mess up plan A, He will come up with plan B. So, learn to lean on God and cast all your cares on Him.

    With human thoughts, we want to have our children to have the best possible life; How much more our heavenly Father would have thought about the plans for our future.

    Takeaway from second reading:

    We see the ardent determination of the Apostle Paul in the second reading. The only reason for him to live is to bring Jesus to all the people. Though he is desiring to die, so that he can be with Jesus forever, he understands the necessity of him being in the world to preach the Holy Gospel. He is a happy man of God, because he has got freedom from worrying about himself.

    All our lives we are worrying about us.

    The major topic for worry in our thought life is ‘Me & My’
    We need to relieve this big burden of worrying about our own self and cast our cares on God.

    Takeaway from Gospel reading:

    In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us to stop comparing ourselves with others.

    Someone will have what you do not have and you will have what they do not have.
    No one will have everything and no one will be without anything.

    Comparing will result in concerns. ‘Why me?’ or ‘Why not me?’. The answers you will have later, like God is planning to have a better one for you. He will make you understand later. But now He just wants you to trust in Him and go ahead.

    Birth of Jesus is a perfect picture to be happy with whatever we have got.

    Though He is the king of kings, He did not choose a palace to be born; He chose a stable.
    He did not choose a rich man as His foster Father; He chose a carpenter.
    He did not choose a daughter of a rich or learned father. He chose a humble virgin.

    Tips for not worrying:

    1. Start the day, spending time with God. He is the best one to shoulder all your burdens. Till you share all your worry pointers/concerns with Him and you feel your burden lifted, do not close the prayer time. Choose good songs and play the same in order to avoid deviation of thoughts.

    2. When you do not know how to handle things, trust in God. The only thing I say during those times is ‘Jesus and Mother Mary I trust that you are taking care of me’.

    3. God does not allow pain to continue over a prolonged period of time. He allows it only for short period of time. Trust in him.

    4. If people hurt you, calm your thinking-self down by crying it to God alone. He is our vindicator.

    5. All our lives we are worrying about us. The major topic for worry in our thought life is ‘Me & My’. We need to relieve this big burden of worrying about our own self and cast our cares on God.

    God did not create the world to be full of sorrowful, worried, unhappy children. His thoughts are always to make us happy and fruitful. Come to His open arms and lean on His bosom.


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