Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Wednesday 20TH Week in Ordinary Time
August 20, 2014
Wednesday 20TH Week in Ordinary Time
Ez 34: 1-11 / Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5,6 / Mt 20: 1-16
Reading: Ez 34: 1-11
The word of Yahweh came to me in these terms, "Son of man, speak on my behalf against the shepherds of Israel! Say to the shepherds on my behalf: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? But you feed on milk and are clothed in wool, and you slaughter the fattest sheep. You have not taken care of the flock, you have not strengthened the weak, cared for the sick or bandaged the injured. You have not gone after the sheep that strayed or searched for the one that was lost. Instead you ruled them harshly and were their oppressors. They have scattered for want of a shepherd and became prey of wild animals. My sheep wander over the mountains and high hills; and when they are scattered throughout the land, no one bothers about them or looks for them. Hear then shepherds, what Yahweh says: As I live - word of Yahweh, - because my sheep have been the prey of wild animals and become their food for want of shepherds, because the shepherds have not cared for my sheep, because you shepherds have not bothered about them but fed yourselves and not the flocks, because of that, hear the word of Yahweh. This is what Yahweh says: I will ask an account of the shepherds and reclaim my sheep from them. No longer shall they tend my flock; nor shall there be shepherds who feed themselves. I shall save the flock from their mouths and no longer shall it be food for them. Indeed Yahweh says this: I myself will care for my sheep and watch over them.
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16
This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the workers a salary of a silver coin for the day, and sent them to his vineyard. He went out again at about nine in the morning, and seeing others idle in the square, he said to them: 'You, too, go to my vineyard and I will pay you what is just.' So they went. The owner went out at midday and again at three in the afternoon, and he did the same. Finally he went out at the last working hour - it was the eleventh - and he saw others standing there. So he said to them: 'Why do you stay idle the whole day?' They answered: 'Because no one has hired us.' The master said: 'Go and work in my vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager: 'Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' Those who had come to work at the eleventh hour turned up and were given a denarius each (a silver coin). When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received a denarius each. So, on receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner. They said: 'These last hardly worked an hour, yet you have treated them the same as us who have endured the day's burden and heat.' The owner said to one of them: 'Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on a denarius a day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Don't I have the right to do as I please with my money? Why are you envious when I am kind?' So will it be: the last will be first, the first will be last."
We cannot interpret the gospel according to our human understanding of justice. For us, it is just to receive more compensation for longer hours of labor. Hence the complaint of the first batch of workers is reasonable. However, the gospel confounds us with another form of justice which we are unable to comprehend. Prophet Isaiah says the thinking of God is not similar to that of man. They are as dissimilar as heaven and earth. The gospel does not refer to monetary wage but to the gift of eternal life which does not depend on our merit but on God's generosity. The good thief was granted the kingdom of heaven before he died because Jesus wanted it. In Eph. 2:8-9, St. Paul tells us: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God, not deserved by us through our works, so that no one can boast." In Romans 9:16 say, " ... grace does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God's mercy."
The workers received the same wage no matter the difference in their working hours. They had no right to complain. It is the landowner's gift.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
... for families who are in need of healing
... for world peace and reconciliation
... for the birthday intentions of Anj Tan and Saabie L. Dy
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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