Friday, 20 October 2017

October 22nd 2017. Twenty Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Matthew 22, 15-21
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL: Matthew 22, 15-21
The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax."
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . Is Jesus telling us that the secular realm and the realm of faith are two separate jurisdictions altogether? Is he telling us to turn our backs on the world and practice our faith in private, in separation from the world? The first reading sheds some light on this question. It tells how a Persian king – who did not even know God – was used by God to bring freedom to the people of Israel. God’s providence is working all the time in the world! The early Christians knew the meaning of Jesus’ statement, “Give to Caesar what is of Caesar and to God what is of God”. They respected the political structures of the Romans and lived peaceful lives, but they refused to make sacrifice to the Emperor. They did not give him what rightfully belonged only to God, and they were willing to die as a result. We too are called by Jesus in this Gospel to give to God what belongs to God, even while we are living in the world. Jesus is not asking us to turn our backs on the world, but to keep God our priority in our dealings with the world. Even if we enter a monastery, we can still have hearts that belong to Caesar! The invitation being extended to each one of us this Sunday is to belong only to God, to have hearts that are owned by him. When we act in the world, our hearts must remain his only. We must not budge one centimetre from him.

Is Jesus telling us that the realm of Caesar and the realm of God are two separate kingdoms altogether?
At first sight, this Gospel seems to put God and Caesar into contraposition. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus, so they ask him a question about the tribute tax that was due to the Romans. Whatever answer Jesus gives, the Pharisees surmise, will lead him into trouble. If he says not to pay the tax, then he can be reported to the Roman authorities. But if he says to pay it, then he will seem a mere servant of the Romans. Jesus chooses neither option but offers his own solution to the question: "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." Is Jesus saying that the jurisdiction of Caesar and the jurisdiction of God are two separate realms altogether?

As the first reading demonstrates, God is active in the world of Caesar as well. These are not two separate realms. In all of our dealings with the realm of Caesar we are asked to place God at the heart of our activity
The first reading from Isaiah 45 gives us a new perspective on this question. The passage recounts God’s call of the Persian king Cyrus to free the people of Israel from their exile in Babylon. But there is no evidence that Cyrus ever became a believer in the God of Israel. Nevertheless, through their faith in the work of God’s providence in history, the people of Israel saw Cyrus as one anointed by God to free them from their seventy years of oppression. As the first reading says, Cyrus was called by God even though he himself was unaware of it. Cyrus may not have had a direct personal relationship with God, yet he was given this role in history by the Lord. Isn’t it curious that this first reading unifies the jurisdictions of Caesar and God? In the first centuries of the Church, the Romans killed many Christians, even though the first believers were in no way subversive to the political fabric of the empire. They were persecuted because they refused to give priority to the state Gods. The only law they broke was their refusal to sacrifice to the Emperor. In other words, they did not give to Caesar what was rightfully due to God, but they did render onto Caesar the things that were properly his.

We are asked to be in the world but not be of the world
Just as we saw in the first reading, it is not a simple question of separating the realms of Caesar and God. The hand of God can help bring salvation through a secular power such as that of Cyrus. The Gospel does not ask us to turn our backs completely on the world. We are called to do a more difficult thing, something that Christians have always done: be in the world but not be of the world. We don’t have to go somewhere else but be of God here and now. Every day we must ask ourselves: “Who am I for? Who do I belong to? What is my heart attached to?” In the worldly things that I encounter every day, the important thing is that my heart belongs to God and does not budge one centimetre from him. This is completely different to a schizophrenic approach to reality where God is pitted against Caesar. True, it is hard to be with God when I am in the midst of other things, but this is what we are all called to, even those who live the monastic life. Some people think that the religious life enables a complete separation from the world. But the world comes with us into the cloister, it is written in every act of ours. Even in the cloister, our hearts can be with Caesar, but what we are called to is to have a heart that is only for God.

The person of flesh and the person of Spirit are not two different people. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we are called to serve God with our flesh and with everything that we are

We are called to live in the real world whilst continually evaluating that reality according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This style of life does not cast the world away but welcomes it with the love of God. The world and God are not in counter position, but we are challenged to interact with the world according to the workings of grace. St Paul speaks of the person of flesh and the person of Spirit. These are not two different persons. We can be obedient to the flesh or obedient to the Holy Spirit. When we are obedient to the Holy Spirit then we do so with our entire flesh and with everything that we are. This saying of Jesus, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” is fundamentally an invitation to make the Lord our priority in everything, to belong to him and to no one else, to be someone who is united to the Lord, who loves him and puts him first.

Friday, 13 October 2017

October 15th 2017. Twenty Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Matthew 22, 1-14
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL: Matthew 22, 1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people 
in parables, saying, 
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son. 
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast."'
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business. 
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them. 
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 
Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come. 
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.'
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests. 
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. 
The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?'
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'
Many are invited, but few are chosen."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . We are all called into the joy of communion with the Lord, into living his life! The parable refers to two different ways in which we can refuse the Lord’s invitation. The first way is through our individualism, our preoccupation with our own affairs, our own egos. In the parable, those invited to the feast are too busy to respond to the Lord’s invitation. We are so engrossed in our concerns, our own projects, our individual self-gratification, that we do not know how to receive the joy that the Lord prepares for us when he invites us into life with him. The second type of person who refuses the invitation of the Lord is the one who tries to enter the feast but does not wear the proper garment. Isn’t that true for all of us? How often we try to convince ourselves that we are in union with the Lord but we refuse to change our habits, our way of life, our usual mode of behaviour! The Lord himself will provide us with the garment for his feast! We do not have to worry about our own righteousness, our own strength, our own determination. The Lord provides the garment. We just have to accept his pardon and enter into his life wearing the garment, having been changed by him. The parable also has a severe warning for all of us. Those who decline to enter the feast or who try to enter with the wrong garment are destined for death and fire. How true that is even now! Our individualism destroys society and sets it in flames. Our self-absorption leads to isolation, loneliness and darkness. It binds us hand and foot and renders us incapable of meaningful acts. Let us respond to the Lord’s invitation! All that matters is that the Lord takes us and places his garment upon us, that we detach ourselves from our own works. The Lord will give us his grace and bestow his gifts upon us, enabling us to live a life that is much more beautiful than the self-directed life of before.

Why do we refuse the invitation to enter into joy of communion with the Lord? Because we are too preoccupied with our own affairs, with our own pleasure, our own egos
This Sunday’s liturgy is really an invitation to dine with the Lord, from chapter 25 of Isaiah to chapter 22 of Matthew. The announcement of the banquet in Isaiah is a joyous one: like a couple who invite friends to dinner and wish to serve the best of food and the finest of wines. The objective of this banquet is to banish sadness and bring joy to the people. This practise of celebrating at table, from weddings to family gatherings, is a feature of all cultures. It is not merely about the physical act of satisfying one’s hunger: rather it has to do with ritual, communion, mutual friendship. It is the relational aspect of such gatherings, in fact, that is their most important feature. And this is the theme of the parable announced by Jesus. A man organises a feast and sends his servants to invite the guests, but they are too busy with their own affairs. They are less interested in joyful encounter with others than they are with their own business, their own projects, their own egos. Their refusal of the invitation is really a way of saying, “I am not interested in what you give me, even if you present it to me as a gift”. This parable points to the problem of individualism, to the inability to relate to others through the experience of eating a common meal, to the preoccupations we have with our own affairs. How often we act to look after own concerns before we turn to our relationships with other people. An authentic life is that which is shared with others. The genuine concern that we ought to have is that of relationship with the other. Only in this way can we encounter the Lord who is with us. It is no accident that the central sacrament of daily Christian life - the Eucharist - is a banquet! Here we are called to share the same bread, to be nourished and enlivened by the one blood of Jesus Christ. What is it that prevents us from having the right attitude for this feast that we are called to? We constantly seek pleasure and enjoyment. This prevents us from knowing how to enter into real joy, which involves accepting the gift that the Lord wishes to give us.

When we enter the banquet of the Lord, we must shed our old aspect and don the new garment provided by the Lord. How often we try to continue without changing our old way of doing things! But we cannot enter into the joy of the Lord if we do not put on the garment that he offers us
At this point the second type of character enters the parable. The first type of person was the one who was too engrossed in himself to accept the invitation to enter into joy. The second type is the one who enters without a wedding garment. But wait: the servants invited all the poor people off the street to the banquet, so how could he have the correct garment? It is important to be aware that in those days the host would distribute a garment – a sort of cloak – to everyone as they entered the feast. Evidently this man has entered the banquet, refusing to don the garment given to all the guests. In other words, this man does not want to change what he is wearing. The first group of people did not wish to change their routine in order to attend the feast. The banquet of the Lord is not run according to our criteria of what is important and how things should be done. When the invitation of the Lord comes, then our way of doing things, our schedule of affairs, must be interrupted. It is surprise that is the spice of life. If you want to make a child happy, prepare a surprise for him. The Lord prepares a surprise for us and says, “Leave aside what you are doing, forget your concerns,” but we do not want to set aside our routines. Then there is the call to change our garment. The psalms and the prophets speak of a change of outfits - from the garment of mourning to the garment of joy. It is not possible to enter into the feast of the Lord if we do not change garment. We cannot enter and remain as we were before! We must allow ourselves to be changed, shedding our old way of doing things and entering into the joy of God. In this sense, we are utterly changed upon entering.

The parable has a warning: if we continue with our self-absorbed lives, refusing to enter into the feast of the Lord, or if we try to enter without accepting the new life that the Lord bestows upon us, then we will wind up in death, darkness and fire.

There is a threatening aspect to this parable. Both the persons who refuse the invitation and the one who refuses to be changed are inflicted with severe punishment. This is divine revelation. Those who remain engrossed in their own concerns and refuse to enter into the feast of the Lord end up embracing death. Our projects end up in nothingness. If we live just for ourselves then we are serving a self that is an illusion, a self that seeks to be independent from the joy of the Lord. These preoccupations are in the service of a city that will one day go up in flames, as the parable foretells. The mundane world of unbridled individualism in which we live is composed of persons who do things only for themselves. They think they are living, but in reality they are dying. It is a society without solidarity that is falling to pieces, a society without the Lord’s banquet in which people remain engrossed in their own affairs and sink deeper and deeper into isolation. This is the reality that we are called to abandon. We are invited to leave our own concerns and enter into the feast of God, so that we do not burst into flames and fall into death. The second man (without the garment) is tied hands and feet and cast into the darkness. Refusing to change garment and don the garment of the mission that the Lord assigns to him, his hands and feet are tied. In other words, he no longer does anything meaningful and he remains in darkness. He who refuses the beauty that the Lord proposes to us, the garment that the Lord offers us, to partake of the feast that the Lord calls us to, ends up doing acts that are bound and fruitless. He winds up in the darkness of his own self-absorption. The Gospel invites us to enter the feast of the Lord! It doesn’t matter whether or not we are good, determined and strong. What matters is that the Lord takes us and places his garment upon us, that we detach ourselves from our own works. The Lord will give us his grace and bestow his gifts upon us, enabling us to live a life that is much more beautiful than the self-directed life of before.

Friday, 6 October 2017

October 8th 2017. Twenty Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Matthew 21, 33-43
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL: Matthew 21, 33-43
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
"Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. 
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. 
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned. 
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way. 
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
'They will respect my son.'
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
'This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.'
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?"
They answered him,
"He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times." 
Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . The parable of the vineyard with the wicked tenants is a parable that speaks personally to each one of us. We all have the ungrateful, bitter tenant within us. We reflect little on the many gifts that God has given us. The enormous blessings that we have received are taken for granted. Worse, these blessings are not used to produce fruits for others but are kept for ourselves. We use our gifts, our material possessions, in service of our own egos and our own projects, with disregard for the God who loves us and the people around us who deserve to be loved. But the good servant who is grateful to the Lord and who wishes to respond to his blessings also exists within each one of us.  And our Lord Jesus is the Master of the vineyard who comes to drive out the wicked tenant from our hearts and make the good tenant flourish, so that in the end we bear fruit for our world and for our God. Life is a journey of transformation where the wicked tenant within us is put to death and the good tenant comes more and more to life as we respond to the grace of God. As such, life can be described as a journey towards generosity, a journey towards the fruitfulness of self-donation. God expects this fruitfulness from us, and so do our spouses, our children, our friends. Let us reflect on the generosity of God towards us, who has blessed our vineyard with such blessings!

This Sunday we reflect on the gratitude that is due to God for all his blessings
The theme of Sunday’s liturgy is that of ingratitude, one of the all-too-common maladies of the human condition. In the first reading from Isaiah we hear of a landowner who plants a perfect vineyard so that it will produce a great harvest, but instead all it produces is bitter grapes. The bad fruits do not reflect the good treatment that it has received. Isaiah tells us that the vineyard will be destroyed, and in so doing he is making a prophecy that is relevant to the experience of Israel. The people of Israel conquer the promised land and eventually set up a monarchy with Saul, David and then Solomon. During the reign of the son of Solomon, the kingdom is divided and then a great degeneration begins. In return for all the good things that they have received, the people respond poorly, leading to the tragedy of the exile in Babylon and the loss of everything. From there they will require a new Exodus and a new process of salvation. In the light of this history, we ask the question, “Is it possible to lose the gift of God to us?” Bitterly, the answer must be “Yes, it is very possible”.

God has the right to expect fruitfulness from us after all the blessings he has planted in us
The Gospel too speaks of a landowner who gives his workers the care of a vineyard that is very similar to the one spoken of in Isaiah. When it comes for the time to reap the harvest, the servants refuse to hand the produce over and instead keep it for themselves. The landowner sends servants and envoys but they are stoned or killed. Even the son of the landowner is slaughtered by the wicked tenants. This harrowing text foretells what will happen to the Lord Jesus, but here we will continue with a reflection on the theme of ingratitude, the theme of not responding to the gifts of another, of keeping possession of the goods that we have been given and spurning  the one who has given us so much. Who is the ungrateful one? The one who keeps everything for himself and does not respond to the generosity of the other. Do we have any obligation towards the Lord or those around us? Is it possible to live authentically without producing fruit for others? If I take the gifts of others and use them only in the service of my own ego, then, in the final analysis, my life is a very lonely one. It is essential in life to recognize that God has the right to ask for fruitfulness from us. In the same way, a wife has the right to ask love from her husband; a child has the right to ask paternal care from his father; a man has the right to expect love from his brother. Love is not an obligation but it is a fruit that is expected of us towards others. What sort of life is a life without fruits, a life without love, a life that fails to respond to the gifts that have been received? At the end of the parable, the wicked tenants lose everything, and we too will end up with nothing if we do not produce the fruits of love. It is possible to lose the gift of God if we take that gift and use it in function of our own egos, our own anxieties, our own projects. In this way, we kill the son of the master and try to make the inheritance ours and ours alone. Our project is one of dominion over life, of gaining possession over things. Within each one of us lives this person who is bitter and ungrateful, unwilling to respond to the good, with a tendency to take everything for himself/herself. Within each one us this person lives.

Both the wicked and the good tenant lives inside each of us. The Master will lead us through a transformation in which the wicked ungrateful tenant is eliminated and the good tenant is permitted to produce an abundant harvest
The parable tells us that the master will come and will cut off these wicked tenants, but this can be read in a more positive manner than we usually do. The Lord comes to us at baptism to remove the ungrateful wretch who dwells in our hearts and to give the vineyard of our lives to one who knows how to produce fruit. Each one of us needs to live this transformation, this passage from ingratitude to gratitude, from aggressor to child of the Father, from the one who is embittered to the one who is filled with joy. These two “peoples” live within us all: the one who is greedy, possessive, and blind, obsessed with his own interests; and the one who produces fruit, who responds joyfully to what he has received. We must admit that both of these tendencies live in our hearts. We are ungrateful and greedy, but we also have the capacity for divine filiality.  In fact, we have been born to be fruitful, to donate ourselves, to resemble God, to possess his nature and to live everything in self-giving relationship with others.

Reflection on the generosity of God moves our hearts to produce fruits for others

This Gospel has a bitter lesson in it, and bitter it must be, for we cannot make compromises with ingratitude. Nothing is served by maintaining a part of our hearts that is ungrateful and possessive. It is like leaving cancerous cells to fester within a body that is otherwise healthy. The bitterness and selfishness that is in our hearts must be put to death, figuratively speaking. This greedy and avaricious heart is possessed by all of us, let us be honest about that. Concupiscence lives within us all. We must embark on the transformation from the ungrateful tenant to the tenant who is joyful and generous. Our journey is a journey towards generosity from start to finish. But the objective of our journey is not that we be well-behaved, righteous and coherent. If these attributes are ends in themselves, then they could well be in function of our own egos. Rather it is a process of no longer thinking about things solely as they stand in reference to ourselves and beginning to see them as unconditional gifts from God. It is reflection on the generosity of God that moves our hearts to produce fruits for others. We feel joy when we realise that we have been the object of the magnanimous gifts of God, his generosity and his patience; and that joy transforms us into magnanimous beings also, filled with joy. This Gospel challenges us to undertake the transformation. It does not want us to be left half-way between one condition and another. We are called to live the grace of baptism every day, eliminating the ungrateful one within us and opening ourselves to gratitude.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

October 1st 2017. Twenty Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Matthew 21, 28-32
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL: Matthew 21, 28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
"What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
He said in reply, 'I will not, '
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, 'but did not go.
Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

A longer summary this week of the homily from Vatican Radio . . . The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel is perfectly in line with the teaching of the Decalogue and the rest of the Old Testament: the Lord God is patient and merciful; his entire goal is to show us his pardon and call us into life. The theme of the first reading is NOT the punishment that awaits the wicked person; rather, the theme is conversion, change of direction. God is not interested in putting us into pigeon holes of “virtuous” and “unvirtuous” just for the sake of it; he is leading us on a journey towards himself. He wishes us to return to our authentic origin, which is the actual meaning of the original Hebrew verb for “conversion”. Every single day of our lives we should be willing to reconsider our views, our mode of behaviour, and the errors of our ways. The Gospel recounts the story of the two sons. One of the sons says “Yes”, but in reality he has no intention of responding to the call of his father; he remains exactly as he was beforehand and does nothing. The theme of conversion is the theme of the evolution of our hearts. Life is a constant process of growth. No one has arrived at a definitive state of being. Life involves moving forward and changing. Every morning we must place ourselves in the hands of God, and pray that he will form our hearts in this coming day. The second son is sincere and says “No” because, like the first son, he has no willingness to respond to his father. But then he enters into himself and considers more deeply the call of his father. Jesus then compares this parable to the situation of his day, stating that the prostitutes and tax-collectors are entering heaven before the chief priests and elders. This accusation would have been almost intolerable for his hearers! But just think of what Jesus is saying. Those who know they are living bad lives have a good chance of conversion, whilst those who think they are virtuous are more likely to continue living just as they are. How fond we are of thinking that we are righteous and have the truth on our side! But the Lord wishes us to acknowledge our poverty before him, to be like the prostitutes and tax-collectors who realize that they have nothing to boast about. Our hearts work well when we are beggars before God, when we remember our prostitution and the fact that we have given ourselves over to idols a thousand times. How beautiful it is when we convert, when we turn away from our evil ways. It is bitter at first but becomes sweet afterwards. There is an entire army of people who long for someone close to them to turn away from the error of their ways and return to right relationship with them. True conversion is a beautiful thing. What is more important, to have a squeaky clean public image with no apparent defects, or to love God and others truly? This Sunday the liturgy invites us to move towards the path of life. This involves turning towards the Lord instead of being preoccupied with a hypocritical public image. The Lord has given us freedom. This exposes us to the danger of becoming corrupt, but it is also the foundation of our incredible potentiality: to convert ourselves onto the Lord.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

September 24th 2017. Twenty Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Matthew 20, 1-16
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL: Matthew 20, 1-16
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire labourers for his vineyard. 
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard. 
Going out about nine o'clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.'
So they went off. 
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o'clock, and did likewise. 
Going out about five o'clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
'Why do you stand here idle all day?'
They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.'
He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
'Summon the labourers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.'
When those who had started about five o'clock came,
each received the usual daily wage. 
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage. 
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
'These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day's burden and the heat.'
He said to one of them in reply,
'My friend, I am not cheating you. 
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 
Take what is yours and go. 
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? 
Are you envious because I am generous?'
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kierans summary . . . In the first reading from Isaiah we hear that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. And this becomes all the more apparent once we read the Gospel! A landowner hires labourers at different times of the same working day; some at dawn, others at various hours of the morning and afternoon, and still others just before sunset. But he then pays all of them the same salary! How unfair this seems to us! Do we tend to think the same with regard to salvation? Do we envy those who live life doing what they please and then make a last minute conversion? Great saints spend all of their lives in good works and sacrifice, but the sinner who has an easy life still gets to heaven if he changes his ways in his last hour. Do we resent this sinner? If so, then there is something wrong with our thinking. Do we really think that a life of sin is more enjoyable than a life lived in the service of God? The pleasures that come from sin are fleeting and transient. They become bitter very soon, for, as St Paul says, the wages of sin are death. But the joy of a life lived in the service of the Father is something more profound and authentic. It can never be taken away from us. Why do we persist in thinking that a life of sin is in some way more exciting or fun than a life of grace? On a purely human level, to be without a job is a difficult and painful situation. If we were to ask an unemployed person if they preferred to work all day for a fair wage as opposed to being paid the same wage for not working, then we can be sure that most people would prefer to have the dignity of work. And this is even more true when it comes to working in the Father’s vineyard. The labourers who work only the last hour spend all day hanging around wasting time. But the ones who work from dawn have the joy and privilege of cooperating with the creative work of the Father. How much better it is to work for the Lord from the beginning, rather than just the last hour! If we think that doing God’s work is a chore or an obligation, then we will naturally envy those who do no work but still receive God’s prize. May our hearts be enlightened with grace so that we can appreciate the joy of sharing in the creative work of the Father.

Due to pressures of work, your translator has been unable to provide a full translation of the homily this week. Normal service to resume next week!

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Sunday Gospel Reflection