Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 21, 2014
The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard which we
have as our Gospel reading today is very typical of Jesus’
teaching. It tells us about the owner who pays his
labourers the same amount of money despite the widely
different numbers of hours they have spent working in
What Jesus is trying to point out is how different God’s attitudes are from our own. And this is well summed up in the phrase from the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, “The heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.”
We human beings usually have extremely well defined concepts of justice although our application of them is not always very consistent. We are quite good at knowing if an injustice has been done to us but we are not so good at recognising whether injustices are being done to others.
If you want to see the truth of this just watch a group of children trying to cut a cake. There will be endless complaints about which one has the biggest slice. And we adults are not much better than children in this regard.
Our tendency is to reflect only on our own situation and simply not to notice what is happening to other people. Such attitudes lead to many injustices being continued from one generation to the next. We end up with extreme imbalances between rich and poor and the exploitation of the weak and those who have no power.
The contrast between our way of doing things and that of the owner of the vineyard could not be more extreme. He does not seem to be concerned about rewarding his labourers for the quantity of work they have completed; he is more preoccupied with giving everyone enough to live on regardless of the amount of work they have completed.
The owner is motivated not by natural justice or even his own profit. No, he is motivated by his own overwhelming generosity of spirit. And Jesus is telling us that this is how God is and he invites us to change our own attitudes and make them more like those of God.
In the Kingdom of God everything is topsy-turvy, everything is the opposite to the way things are in this world. The Kingdom of God is an upside down world, in it the rich are poor and the poor are rich; in it, as Jesus says in today’s reading, “the last will be first and the first last.”
It is hard for us to understand this concept because we are so concerned with equality and getting our fair due. We think that our work should be rewarded fairly and that those who in our opinion choose not to work should therefore not be given the same rewards as those of us who do work very hard.
In this world this seems to be a fair enough point of view, it accords with our idea of natural justice and ties in with our need to have a roof over our head and our desire to put food on the table for our families.
It is difficult for us therefore to come to terms with the proposal of Jesus that we should be motivated by kindness and generosity rather than anything else. He wants us to take the way God is for our model but we find that this is very difficult to do. We feel that we have to live in the real world where money is the measure of most things.
Taking God’s way of doing things and making it our own is actually a very revolutionary thing to do. It requires a complete change of outlook and a total modification of our priorities. But I assure you that once you have made this change in attitude you will find it very fulfilling.
Making such a change lessens your preoccupation with material things; it liberates you from worry and helps you to see everything in its true perspective.
I remember some years ago discussing this parable with some parishioners and one of them compared the workers in the vineyard with those of us who were baptised as children and those who converted to the faith late in life.
Those who were baptised as children he compared with those who went to work in the vineyard at daybreak and those who converted late in life to the ones who came at the eleventh hour. Whenever the decision to follow the Lord is made it comes with the exact same reward.
It just so happens that we are baptising an adult at the 12.30 mass today, a cause of rejoicing if ever there was one. In this case it comes at the end of a lifetime of accompanying his wife to Church but just because the decision was made gradually over a long period it is no less sincere for that.
I know that there are many others who come regularly to this Church even though they are not Catholics. Maybe they come with their partner or their children but were not brought up in the faith themselves. This would be a good moment for them to think about the possibility of converting and becoming a Catholic. We have a programme starting soon where people can learn about the faith leading to Baptism or reception into the Church at Easter.
Whether we embraced the faith in our childhood or later in life makes no difference. Following the Lord as a member of his Church is a wonderful thing and it brings great rewards. Committing oneself to the Gospel changes our perspective from the ways and attitudes of this world to the ways and attitudes of the Lord. We start to see things through God’s eyes and through the lives we live are able to share the Good News of the Gospel with everyone around us.
Today we rejoice at one Baptism and we look forward to many more at Easter.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A—September 21, 2014
Jesus tells a parable that poses an interesting question: Would we ever grumble about God’s generosity?
Gospel (Read Mt 20:1-16a)
In the verses preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus told the disciples “it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:23). A “rich young man” had just gone away “sorrowful” from Jesus, because he could not detach from his possessions to follow Him. When the disciples hear that even the rich, thought to be especially blessed by God, would have a hard time entering heaven, they ask, “Who, then, can be saved?” (Mt 19:25) Jesus gives them an answer that He further elaborates in today’s reading: “With men, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).
Twenty-fifth Sunday: It Is Never Too Late
It certainly seemed like the workers who spent the entire day in the vineyard had a point. It didn’t seem just for them to receive the same pay as those who worked a few hours. After all, they were out in the sun all day, while those other guys only worked in the late afternoon. But the owner of the vineyard also had a point. He had made an agreement with each group as he called them to work in his vineyard. He did not violate his agreement with the first group by being so generous to the last group.
What is the meaning of the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard?Question: “What is the meaning of the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard?”
Answer: This lengthy parable is found only in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus tells the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) in response to Peter’s question in Matthew 19:27: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Peter wanted to know what reward would be given to those who give up everything to follow Jesus. In response, Jesus explains this truth about the kingdom of heaven.
Parables and Parabolic Images in the Gospels
What is a “Parable”?
Definition: “At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.” (C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, p. 5)
Implications of this definition:
Pope Francis: God Visits His People and Gives Them Hope
The Pope prayed: ‘We ask for the grace that our Christian witness be a witness that brings the closeness of God to his people, that closeness that sows hope.’
VATICAN CITY — On Tuesday, Pope Francis focused on the importance of giving hope to the world by imitating Jesus Christ’s closeness to God’s people.
“When God visits his people, he restores hope to them. Always,” Pope Francis said in his Sept. 16 homily at his Casa Santa Marta residence.
The saint who came from a family of martyrs
The first Korean Catholic priest and a martyr for the faith, St Andrew Kim Taegon is a renowned figure in the history of Catholicism in his native land.
Born on August 21 1821, Andrew came from a family of martyrs. During the 19th century, Catholics in Korea were persecuted by the ruling Joseon Dynasty for abandoning Confucianism and Andrew’s great-grandfather, Kim Chin-hu Pius, died in prison in 1814 after being arrested for his conversion to Catholicism.
The saint’s father, Kim Chae-jun Ignatius, was also martyred in 1839 for the practice of the faith.
7 Church Fathers on that Profound Insight of Mary as the New Eve
In his 1st letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul teaches that Jesus is the “last Adam” who fixed the problems caused by Adam’s sin:
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15.21-22)
A God-Centered Romance
“Choose someone God-fearing, and make God the center of your relationship.” When this advice was given in a talk for college students about dating and marriage, a girl in the audience asked, “If we’re going to be thinking of God all the time, how can our relationship be exciting?”
The idea of a God-centered romance is, indeed, alien to today’s culture. This age assumes that a God-centered romance is an oxymoron, a dull and platonic relationship as opposed to a wild, pleasure-centered one. But this is hardly the impression I get from the last letter written by Blessed Bartolome Blanco Marquez to his girlfriend before he was executed for his faith during the Spanish Civil War.
The letter begins:
Beauty Set Free
Immodesty is on display almost everywhere, even at Mass. Magazines, advertisements, movies, music, television and many stores promote immodest clothing as normal and moral. But Catholic public figures — as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and St. John Paul II — disagree with the values endorsed by secular culture. Guided by Church teaching, these Catholics explained their take on modesty and provided advice concerning modest dress with the Register.