Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Father Barry O’Toole, LC
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.”
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.