Workers in the Vineyard
Oct. 1 Mt 21:28-32
Vineyard work is not easy. You are out in the sun the whole day picking grapes and the loads get heavy. It’s not fun work.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus uses this vineyard image to sort out true discipleship. Some workers give only lip service and dodge the work. Others, after a time, take to it earnestly and are rewarded as being true sons and daughters of the Father.
Discipleship is always about willing to answer the call and go to those uncomfortable spaces of unconditional love.
All are Loved Equally
Sept. 24 Mt 20:1-16
On the world’s terms, labor must be rewarded fairly. Equal pay for equal work, but not all labor has the same value. Disregarding that rule will bring problems.
But God’s ways are not our ways. In today’s gospel, all the workers are paid equally regardless of when they started work in the day. We must understand this parable in the currency of love. Like a loving Father, all the children are loved equally. When one wanders away, that love doesn’t diminish. In fact, when one of the lost comes back into the family, there is much joy as another parable teaches us.
Being a part of the family of divine love, is its own reward. Whether you come late to the party or been there from the beginning, it doesn’t matter to God. As long as you make it. The challenge for us is can we offer our “lost and late” ones the same love and respect as our heavenly Fathers offers them.
Mercy and Forgiveness
Sept. 17 Mt 18:21-35
We heard in the gospel of a previous week that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever is loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Essentially, Jesus says we carry the power of the universe and what is that power? It simply is to forgive.
The divisions that come from sin and its accompanying pain will persist even into the next life. Only forgiveness can heal and bring us together. Vengeance, however, only deepens those wounds. We all have sinned in some manner and are in need of forgiveness and mercy.
Jesus offers us the wisdom that those who are honest with themselves and know they stand in need of God’s mercy and can compassionately offer it to others, mercy will be given to them. Those who carry vengeance in their hearts create their own kind of hell.
Forgiveness and the Cross
Of all the virtues Jesus wanted His disciples to possess and practice, forgiveness probably tops the list. The word forgiveness appears in the Gospels more than any other word.
The challenge He poses to us is can we practice a “cross-like” forgiveness. Can we forgive even those who hurt us deeply even to the point of killing us?
A Cross-like Love
Sept 3 Mt 16:21-27
Simon Peter did so well last week. He was acclaimed by Jesus to the point of being awarded a new name. This week, however, Jesus chastises him as being a Satan trying to divert Him from His mission. Jesus apparently wanted it to be clear.
His mission was not to be a sort of glory esteemed by the world. His mission was the cross and to demonstrate a complete self-sacrificing love. What defines God, the Messiah or Son of Man is unconditional love and forgiveness. What defines his disciples, then, is the cross and living this same kind of love.