Sep 20 2020 Reflection
Sunday 20 September 2020
First Reading: IS 55:6-9
The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
PS 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Second Reading: PHIL1:20C-24, 27A
Gospel Reading: MT 20:1-16A
Today’s Note: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
There’s no doubt about it—there are times when we just can’t understand why God doesn’t see things our way. Why doesn’t he just give us the job we want or the healing we are asking for or the reconciliation we long for? It would make so much sense, Lord, just to do what I’m asking.
But we also know that, in this life at least, we won’t always understand God’s ways. They are as far above us as the heavens are to the earth (Isaiah 55:9).
Today’s Gospel illustrates this point exactly. Who would pay the same wage to the laborer who arrived early and the one who arrived an hour before quitting time? Only God can be so generous as to want to care equally for all those who come to him, whether they arrive early or come much later.
And that’s why we can be thankful that God’s ways are so far above our own. Look at how the Lord cared for his chosen people over the centuries. Even though there were many occasions when he could have abandoned them, he never did, no matter how far they had strayed. They only had to seek him to find mercy (Isaiah 55:6-7).
Each week at Mass, we are privileged to witness God’s mercy in action, when he transforms ordinary bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood. What a God we have, who loves us so much that he gives us not only his mercy but his very self in the Eucharist! This is so much beyond anything we could ever expect or imagine.
Yes, God’s ways are above our ways. He gives his love and mercy without measure, without cost, to anyone who comes to him. Early bird or latecomer, sinner or saint—all are welcome. As we are nourished by Jesus in the Eucharist, may our ways grow to become ever more like his.
“Father, I praise you for your mercy, which knows no bounds!”