TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.
Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Today we might take a look at our attitudes toward our work in Christ. As St. Paul writes, Christ, and being with him is a greater thing than working on earth. But because it is necessary and helpful to the Church that he remain in the flesh and work on earth, he can just as easily do the work and enjoy its fruitfulness.
St. Paul doesn’t say that he desires a higher reward than those he evangelizes. He simply desires Christ and to live a life worthy of the gospel.
The laborers in the parable of the vineyard have a very different attitude. They work a long day in the heat. When they see others being rewarded with the same compensation that they received, suddenly, they want more than they originally agreed to. What more is there than to be given fruitful labor and receive eternal life? Or do they want others to receive less? Do they want them to be given a less than complete version of eternal life?
If we expect to be a help to others in need, just as a firefighter or EMT responds in an emergency, we cannot resent that we helped to save another life by offering our service. That means that we must put ourselves and our desires last. We offer ourselves to the Lord. Today, let us embrace the joy of the fruitful labor we perform while we are in the flesh until we are called to be with Christ.