Sunday September 20th 2020: Read Br Michael’s Gospel Reflection The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
All are equal in God’s eyes
Jesus spoke to and taught people through stories; parables. A parable is story that is not as obvious as it first looks. It may take several readings before its message and meaning is revealed to us. A parable is often described as a story with the wrong ending; or at least not the ending we were expecting! A parable is also like a mirror into which we are invited to look so that we can see ourselves – if we have the courage to do so. The gospel today contains one such parable that might challenge us – if we let it.
A landowner hires workers at the start of the day to work in his vineyard and agrees their pay with them. Later in the morning and for the rest of the day he hires more workers and also agrees their wages for their work. He even hires people at sunset at the very end of the working day. When the time comes for all the workers to be paid the fun starts; those who arrived last and worked the least are paid exactly the same as those who were hired first and worked the longest! One can imagine the outrage and anger of the workers, but the landowner stands by his original promise and pays them the agreed amount. He says to them all ‘Have I no right to do what I like with my own. Why be envious because I am generous?’
This strange parable is not about labour laws or workers rights; it is about the bountiful generosity of God. Perhaps like me in my relationship with God and when I pray, you too are demanding. While I like to believe that my prayer is genuine, I often say, it’s not fair, I want, I need or I deserve. The danger in this is that I think I deserve better treatment from God than others. This parable is echoed in the Prodigal Son. On the return of the younger son, the older one becomes angry and jealous because he feels he is being treated unfairly and unjustly. Yet the father loves both equally and is generous with both.
Perhaps like the first hired workers and the older son, I too become angry and jealous when I feel that God’s decisions and choices differ from mine. Perhaps this challenging parable reminds us of what God says; ‘My thoughts are not like yours and my ways are different from yours.’ (Is. 55.8).
If God is generous, loving and merciful to me, who am I grumble when God treats others similarly? If I resent God’s generosity to show mercy to whom God pleases, not only do I behave like those in the gospel, but I also forget that in my own daily life that I have been enriched by God’s love and mercy towards me. In the Our Father, Jesus reminds us to ask only for our ‘daily bread’ – enough for that day! We are not meant to ask for nor look for more than we need. Can we trust in God’s own generosity and abundance to provide for and give us what we need today and when we ask for it, what we will need for the following day?
God’s generosity towards us and mercy for us have no limits or boundaries; God’s care will provide what is enough, what is satisfying, for each. Loved as we are by God personally, we are called to rejoice in his kindness and concern, which is both given to us personally and to everyone else.
As Psalm 103 reminds us, ‘The Lord is merciful and loving, slow to anger and full of constant love…God does not treat us as we deserve or repay us according to our sins.’
– Br Michael Moore OMI
|Matthew 20:1-16 ©|
Why be envious because I am generous?
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We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you that starting on the evening of Saturday, September 19 and finishing on Wednesday 23rd, we will be hosting a ‘virtual’ Lourdes Pilgrimage. As you will know, because of Covid-19, the pilgrimage had to be postponed for 2020.
Based on the theme, “Bringing Lourdes Home” we will use these few days to prayerfully bring Lourdes into our hearts.
Click here for more information: https://oblates.ie/virtual-lourdes-pilgrimage-2020/
We invite you to send your petitions for the pilgrimage, either to email@example.com or to the Mission Office, Oblate House of Retreat, Tyrconnell Road, Inchicore, DUBLIN 8, or for those of you in the UK you can send them to the Oblate Retreat Centre, Wistaston Hall, 89 Broughton Ln, Crewe CW2 8JS, UK. We will send more details soon on how you can join with us for these special days.
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