Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 20:1-16)
Today’s gospel reading is one of the parables of Jesus found only in the Gospel of Matthew. The parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard may give rise to some perplexity. Why does the landowner not pay the labourers according to the hours they have worked?
The parable is an invitation to understand that the ways of God are not bound or limited by human standards. The first reading, from the second part of the Book of Isaiah, is very well chosen to assist our understanding. God says: ‘for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways’. God does not act according to the principles of human justice; whereby human beings are repaid according to their actions. God’s loving generosity puts such considerations to one side.
The point of the parable is that we cannot demand rewards from God. The gifts which God bestows are always far greater than anything we can merit. We are saved not by our own efforts but by the boundless kindness of God which we gratefully welcome into our lives.
When has God taught you that the ways of God are different?
Is it appropriate to speak of the ‘justice’ of God?
We pray for openness to the things of God, which are beyond our full comprehension.
We pray for a spirit of forgiveness and acceptance of others.
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 21:28-32)
Matthew’s parable about two sons is our gospel reading today. It is addressed to the chief priests and the elders. Jesus points out that many religious people pledge their loyalty in words, but do not follow this up with actions. Such people are contrasted with the tax collectors and prostitutes in the parable, who, after initially refusing to respond, change their lives for the better.
The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel makes clear that we are asked to do God’s will and persevere in it. It may take a long time for us to accept the truth and challenge of the gospel, but God is patient and seems to prefer to await our free response rather than endure pious words which are not backed up by acts.
Jesus also reprimands the religious leaders for their blindness. Even when they saw the tax collectors and sinners responding to the preaching of John the Baptist, they still refused to change themselves. Jesus will later accuse the religious leaders of blindness and hypocrisy: ‘Alas for you, blind guides!’(23:16)
Am I blind to the example of those I consider to be not as good as I am?
Am I willing to turn over a new leaf despite past failings?
We pray that we may respect the efforts of others even if they fail.
We pray for insight and understanding of ourselves and of our neighbour.
Fr Adrian Graffy