Saturday, September 17, 2005
25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
SEPTEMBER 18, 2005
25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the
scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to
the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my
thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the
LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways
above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.
PHILIPPIANS 1:20C-24, 27A
Brothers and sisters: Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by
life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I
go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do
not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to
depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that
I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. Only,
conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.
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."
Once upon a time St. Peter graciously opened the pearly gates for a man
who had been knocking for a while. But as soon as he went in, his jaw
dropped at the sight of those, who stood there to greet him. Never in
a thousand years could he have imagined that some of them would be
found there. However, his expression soon changed as he saw the
surprised look on their faces to see him there in heaven.
All of us need and benefit from the infinite generosity of Jesus
Christ. We don't even have to knock at the door of his heart or seek
him out on our way, because he goes looking for us, just as in the
parable, the owner went looking for workers at every hour of the day,
even the last. All we have to do is accept his offer to come into the
But sometimes we don't realize how much we benefit from Christ's
generosity, and in turn we begrudge mercy and forgiveness to others,
whose weakness or malice is so obvious to us.
Lucky for us and for every human being that God is not like us in this
regard. God can see through even the hardest of hearts into its depth,
where the image of Christ is irrevocably lodged. Because God has been
divinely generous in creating us, He is divinely generous in redeeming
Today's parable is about attitudes proper to a mature Christian. "What
is a mature Christian's attitude toward the distribution of God's
gifts, and the use of his own?" We will look for the answers by
considering 1) the primary meaning of Jesus' parable, then 2) go on to
the lessons of charity it teaches us, and 3) the way to apply them.
The primary purpose of the parable about the vineyard is to instruct us
in the way God distributes his gifts. The owner upsets his employees
by giving the late-hired workers as much as the first-hired. Many
people still think this is unfair. This Gospel can offend our
legalistic sense of justice.
What is the point that Jesus was trying to make to the people of his
time? In Palestine in the time of Jesus, the men who were standing in
the market place were not "kanto boys," loafing around. The market
place was the equivalent of a recruiting center. A man came there
first thing in the morning, carrying his tools, and waited until
someone hired him. The men who stood in the market place were waiting
for work, and the fact that some of them stood on until even five
o'clock in the afternoon are the proof of how desperately they need to
These men were daily wage earners; they were the lowest class of
workers, and life for them was always desperately uncertain. The daily
wage laborers were entirely at the mercy of chance employment. They
were always living on the semi-starvation situation. The pay was just
enough to sustain their family for a day. If they did not find work,
their children would go hungry at home. For them, to be unemployed is
a day of disaster.
However, some Scripture scholars tell us that the first meaning of the
parable has nothing to do with money. It was a lesson on charity -
God's charity. Jesus told the parable to the Jewish people. They were
the ones who had struggled through the ages bearing the burden of
serving God, the vineyard owner. Now Jesus was telling them that at
the Final Judgment the wages of salvation were to be given to these
latecomers as well.
The parable teaches that God's ways are not our ways. The part-time
workers stand for the sinners and outcasts of the day. They were the
people, who took Jesus' preaching very seriously and reformed their
lives. They were people like the good thief on the cross, who repented
at the last minute and was saved. They were people like the prodigal
son, who repented after leaving home and was welcomed back by his
The full-time workers, on the other hand, stand for people like the
Pharisees, who became angry, when sinners repented and entered God's
kingdom at the last minute. They were people like the elder brother of
the prodigal son. He became angry, when his brother repented and was
received by his father with open arms.
In effect, Jesus says of these people: "Behold how loving your
heavenly Father is. Contrast his great love with your own ack of love
toward your brothers and sisters."
Is that unfair or unjust? Or were they forgetting that neither the
Covenant, nor faith, nor grace is earned? The best things in life are
free. The Jews retain the honor of being the Chosen People, the first
called; but they are not the only ones called. In any case, God gives
his gifts as He pleases.
Suppose we change the parable a bit. You are the employer, and a good
person. All day you've been hiring people. An hour before quitting
time, you find your brother walking the streets looking for work. And
you hire him. When the wages are handed out, you slip him a full day's
pay. What could be more natural more kind, more just? Well, let us
remember that the men in the parable, who came in last, were Christ's
brothers, for every man is his brother.
What lesson of charity does this parable teach us? What is the
practical application of the parable to our own lives? The parable of
the vineyard owner invites us to ask ourselves about our own attitudes
toward our needy brothers and sisters. How sensitive are we to their
plight? Are we so wrapped up in our own efforts to make a living that
we forget about them in their desperate need? Are we so insensitive to
their plight that we even find ourselves begrudging them the
extraordinary help they sometimes get from people like the
vineyard owner? How different is our heavenly Father toward us.
Let's close with a story.
Author Geraldine Marshall says that one of her fondest childhood
memories of a birthday is not one of her own birthdays, but one of her
On one of those days, her father gave her a beautiful stuffed tiger.
Geraldine was bubbling over with joy. Finally, after she calmed down,
Geraldine said to her father:
"But Daddy, it's your birthday. Not mine. I'm supposed to give you a
birthday present! Why are you giving me one?"
Her father took her in his arms and said:
"Sweetheart, you have given me a beautiful present - the most
beautiful present a daughter could ever give her father. It's seeing
the happiness that my gift has given you."
Winston Churchill, the great prime minister of England said:
"We make a living by what we get,
but, we make a life by what we give."
We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- In Thanksgiving: Bro. Nanding
- for the speedy recovery of Annika Nadine Uy.
- healings for Sr Mary David & her mother, Helena, Cindy, Angie's mom,
George & Ann.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Lourdes G. Choa
- for the intentions of Foil Mclaughlin and his family
- for the healing of my sister Jacqueline who is having a delicate
- for the continued good growth of our son Ethan Jedd, healing of his
asthma and respiratory problems.
- for my wife and our little angle in her for a good health
- for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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