Theme: THE LORD IS NOT ONLY JUST, BUT THE LORD IS ALSO GENEROUS
- Isaiah 55:6-9;
- Psalm 144:2-3. 8-9. 17-18. R/ v. 18;
- Philippians 1:20-24. 27
- Matthew 20:1-16
Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that the Lord is not only just, but the Lord is also generous! The gospel parable today tells us that a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. He hired some at 6 am, some at 9 am, some at 12 noon, some at 3 pm and some at 5 pm. (NJBC)
More importantly, the gospel tells us that he paid the last workers as much as he paid the first workers! The first workers who worked from 6 am to 6 pm under the hot sun were paid one silver coin, but the last workers who worked for only one hour in the evening sun were also paid one silver coin, that is, a day’s wage! The landowner was not unjust, but he was generous! He was gracious!
Most importantly, the gospel concludes by telling us that the last will be first and the first last! That is, the pagans and sinners who are last will be the first to repent and believe the good news and thus the first to receive the grace of God and enter the Kingdom of God; but the Jews who are first, who are the chosen people of God, will be the last to repent and believe the good news and thus will be the last to receive the grace of God and enter the King of God! (NJB)
The first reading tells us to repent when there is still time! More importantly, the first reading tells us that God is merciful and forgiving! God is not like man, man never forgives, but God always forgives! (HCSB) Thus we read in the first reading:
“Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near. Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.” (Is 55:6-8; SM)
The responsorial psalm also tells us to repent. The responsorial psalm tells us to repent
and call on the Lord! Thus we responded three times:
“The Lord is close to all who call him.” (Ps 144:18; SM)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. Again, stanzas two and three tell us to repent because the Lord is kind, compassionate, loving and good! Thus we read in stanzas two and three:
“The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures. The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds. He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.” (Ps 144: 8-9. 17-18; SM)
The second reading also has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that Saint Paul was in a dilemma. He did not know what to choose; to choose to die and to be with Christ in heaven forever or to choose to live and work for the good of the Philippians! Thus we read in the second reading:
“I am caught in this dilemma: I want to be gone and be with Christ, which would be very much the better, but for me to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need for your sake.” (Ph 1:23-24: SM)
Besides telling us about the dilemma of Saint Paul, the second reading has another very important thing to tell us! The second reading tells us about the meaning of life!
What do we live for? What is the meaning of life? How to be happy? The second reading tells us that the meaning of life is to work for the good of others and one day to be with Jesus Christ in heaven forever!
Today is also “Catechetical Sunday” and Bishop Cornelius Piong has a special message for us, particularly for parents and catechists! Bishop Cornelius is the President of the Malaysian Catechetical Commission. To begin with, Catechetic is about teaching the faith. Bishop Cornelius tells parents and catechists that in order to grow in the faith and to teach the faith, parents and catechists must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They must believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and be empowered with the Holy Spirit. And they must belong to the Christian community. In this way parents and catechists can make Jesus Christ known, loved and served! In this way parents and catechists can teach the faith to their children and to their catechumens! Thus we read in the message:
“What steps should we take in order to build and strengthen our Christian faith?
Firstly, we need to be convinced of the need to build and strengthen our Christian faith through our close relationship with the person of Christ (Jn 15:4-5, Col 2:6-7).
Secondly, we need to be convinced that our Christian faith needs the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our helper. He teaches us and reminds us of the teaching of Christ (Jn 14:26). Thirdly, we need to be convinced that our Christian faith needs the support and protection of our Christian communities (Acts 2:41-47). Our role and responsibility as parents and catechists in making Jesus better known, loved and served must be guided and built on the three faith formation foundations mentioned above.” (Message on Catechetical Sunday, 2014)
A happy and blessed Catechetical Sunday to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.