September 21, 2014 (readings)
- Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Father Barry Oâ€™Toole, LC
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers 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 laborers 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to work in your vineyard alongside you.
1. The Call to Work in the Vineyard: The landowner needs workers for his vineyard. Going out to the marketplace, where there are all kinds of people, he invites all the workers he can find. We are all invited to be apostles in the Lord’s vineyard. Some might think they don’t have enough talent, others that they are just too young to be able to do anything for Christ, and still others that the task is just too much for them. But Christ doesn’t ask for excuses; he asks for workers, generosity and good will. He will take care of the rest. He doesn’t call the prepared; he prepares the called. He is the one who produces the fruits, not us. What a joy and privilege to be called by the Lord to be a worker in his vineyard, especially when we fulfill our task out of love.
2. Turning the Tables: We complain so easily about the problems we see around us: the lack of values, the violence, the evil people do…. Then in our prayer we say to God, “Look at the world. Why don’t you do something about it?” If we were to listen a little more closely to God in prayer, we would probably hear him reply, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” Perhaps we never knew there was something we could do. Perhaps we never had the courage to face the situation and address the matter seriously. Idleness is the one thing the Lord cannot understand. “You also go into the vineyard.” Some are called early; some are called later. It doesn’t matter when, what does matter is to respond the moment we are called.
3. The Surprising Salary: Go ahead and ask the question…. Peter did, in the passage just prior to this parable (Matthew 19:27-30): What can I expect from this? Christ is the best bargain in the marketplace. He promises us the full wage, even if we were called at the last hour. Whatever we “sacrifice” for him, he promises us 100% in this life plus eternal life. So really, the sky is the limit. We have to ask ourselves: What am I willing to give Christ? A few meager dollars, a few fleeting moments of my day, only my “leftover” time? Christ never obliges; he only invites. It is important never to forget that by helping God to save souls we save our own. This is the way to build up a treasure in heaven.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, today I hear your call more clearly than ever. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work in your vineyard. For you I am willing to do anything. I know there will be moments of difficulty and weakness. Give me your grace and strength, and then ask of me what you please. Make me your apostle.
Resolution: I will give as much of today as possible to God by living each moment and activity with intensity and purity of intention. I will offer it all to God out of love.
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