Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover art and column

Sept. 24 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

To our human experience, today’s gospel may seem unfair. The parable presented in Matthew 20:1-16 shows that God waits for us and offers us opportunity and entrance into the Kingdom even at the last minute. God’s generosity is overwhelming to our finite and selfish approach to life. Let’s explore this.

The landowner hired people early in the morning for his vineyard. He also saw people waiting to be hired throughout the day, even at the very last working hour of the day. All of them received the same daily wage. The workers who were hired first were jealous.

Our society is hardwired for a sense of entitlement. So often we raise our children with a sense that they can do no wrong and that they deserve the best. Sometimes our children do not understand that they have to work hard, put themselves out in the world, and take risks. Those risks often produce hardship and complications and no person ever gets only his or her way in life.

This gospel seems unfair, that the person hired last should get the same benefits as the person who worked all day. Yet, this is a parable about something greater than our earthly work. This parable is a story about our place in God, our place in the love, hope and forgiveness of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We all have a place in God. This statement often makes people crazy. We blame people for their sin, their poverty and their lack of education and we wonder how God could love them and accept them as well. We find it hard to believe that God loves the public sinner, the hardened criminal, the outcast and the marginalized.

God loves us far beyond the external of life. God treasures the human heart and wants to dwell within each of us. We are God’s creation and God has the right to enter into the mystery of every human heart. Our prayer always should be that of rejoicing, of gratitude that God is generous toward every human being. God’s love is extravagant.

Salvation is free. We do not earn our place in God’s Kingdom. We do not earn his tenderness here on earth. God’s mercy, forgiveness and presence is free, a real and treasured gift no matter how stubborn we are or how jealous we are toward other people.

I pray for us all that we could finally realize that salvation comes not on our earthly perfection or sense of entitlement, but on the true and inviting nature of God’s fidelity toward every human being. If we could internalize today’s parable, we could change the world.

Here are some statements to consider this week: The gifts that I offer for the growth of the Kingdom are… My response to God’s generosity toward me is…. My prayer for when God is generous toward other people is…

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

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