September 24, 2017
by Roland Coelho, S.J.
Former member of the Jesuit Community and Graduate Student at Creighton University
click here for photo and information about the writer

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 133

Isaiah 55:6-9
Psalms 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Philippians :20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20:1-16a

Praying Ordinary Time

We have a lovely parable this Sunday about the laborers in the vineyard. Found only in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us that our God is a generous God who desires to save all people, all nations. Let us try to understand this story.

The owner of the vineyard hired laborers early in the morning (“harvest time” or summertime with sunrise about 6 a.m.) and agreed to pay them a denarius each (the acceptable daily wage for a laborer). These laborers were poor and depended on the daily wages they received to feed their families. When the owner went out at 9 am, noon, 3 pm, and 5 pm, he found more laborers who had not yet been hired. When work ended (around 6 pm), he paid them each a denarius, beginning with the last and ending with those who came early in the morning.

Those who arrived last, worked for an hour, and received a full denarius were probably overjoyed. Those who arrived first, however, were jealous and “grumbled at the landowner.” The owner made them understand that he was not unjust; he had paid them as promised and he was free to be overgenerous with the others. Sustenance is provided for all, even those who have worked for just one hour.

In the parable, God is the landowner. The Jews—to whom the Good News was announced first—and then the non-Jews and late-comers were all invited to the vineyard. The Pharisees who listened to Jesus (if they opened their hearts and minds) would have heard this message: God wants all to be saved, not only the Jewish people. In God’s Kingdom, God’s grace and blessings are free gifts that flow from God’s goodness and love for all humanity. In the Kingdom, there is no place for envy or selfishness. The ultimate gift is offered to all: eternal life.

Let us rejoice that God has invited us to God’s vineyard. Let us rejoice that eternal life with God is offered to all people, even to that nasty neighbor whom I dislike. Let us rejoice that we are challenged to change our thoughts and ways and see with God’s compassionate eyes.

A prayer for today (adapted from a quote by Andy Stanley):
Gracious God, may your extravagant generosity gifted to me compel me to be extravagantly generous towards others. Amen.

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