For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092417.cfm
It’s not fair! Growing up in a family of seven (five boys and two girls) these words were common in our house. They were automatic response to every perceived injustice or sense of preferential treatment. I suspect these words were on the lips of the laborers in today’s Gospel parable. This parable, found only in Matthew’s Gospel, tells the familiar story of a landowner who went out at various times throughout the day to hire laborers for his vineyard. When it came time to pay the laborers, however, those who were hired late in the day received the same pay as those “who had bore the day’s burden and heat.” This just doesn’t seem fair.
In order to understand what this parable has to say to us, we need to remember that parables are simple stories that Jesus used to tell us something about God or about our relationship with God. They were not meant to be taken literally. Rather, they challenge us to ask what they are telling us about God. In today’s parable we are reminded that salvation is freely offered by God to all people, regardless of when they arrive in the vineyard of faith. Such is the way of God. It is certainly different from the way we often act. And when you stop and think about it, isn’t that good for us.
Our fist reading today shares the theme of the Gospel. In it God, speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, reminded the people that “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”
After reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans for the past twelve Sunday’s, today we switch to St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. In the section we read today Paul acknowledges that he would like “to depart this life and be with Christ.” He also realizes, though, that for now it is “more necessary for their benefit” that he remain in this world.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Many people believe that only a limited number will be saved. Today’s parable would seem to argue against this. Why do you think God is so generous and undiscriminating with God’s love and offer of salvation?
- Have you ever experienced that God’s ways are not your ways?
- We all live with the hope of heaven, yet we know that we are all put on this earth for a purpose. How do you know when you have accomplished your purpose?