A God of All

Mercy As Post-Easter Mandate!
Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk

Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk

Twenty Fifth Sunday of the Year, A – September 24, 2023

Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9; Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:2-3.8-9.17-18(R.8a); Phil 1:20c-24.27a & Gospel Matthew 20:1-16.

Theme: A God of All

Sunday Synopsis

In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah tells the people of Israel to seek the Lord while assuring that he is near. In the second reading, St. Paul states that life for him is Christ but death would bring him something greater. He contends that Christians should avoid anything that is unworthy of the gospel of Christ. Matthew’s gospel presents us with the parable of the workers who came into a landowner’s vineyard in the morning, afternoon, and evening respectively but were given the same reward. He (Jesus) challenged the wailers for being jealous over his magnanimity. This shows that God has no favourites – heaven belongs to all who do the will of God.

Introduction

Friends in Christ, our liturgy this Sunday challenges us to fix out gaze on the ultimate prize and not get distracted by how long we have toiled in the Lord’s vineyard. In his characteristic manner, Jesus challenges the status quo. He goes against normal conventions by giving those who got into his harvest first the same reward as those who came late.

Background and Summary of the Readings

In the first reading (Is. 55:6-9), Isaiah tells the people of Israel to seek the Lord while assuring that he is near. He urged the wicked to abandon their ways and return to the Lord as he is rich in forgiving. Just as the heavens are as high above, he surmised that God’s ways are not our ways, and his methods are not our methods.

In the second reading (Phil. 1:20c-24.27), St. Paul reveals that he is caught in a quandary whether to die or live. He, however, states that life for him is Christ but death would bring him something greater. He stresses that the most urgent need is to be alive for the sake of the Philippians and urged them to avoid anything that is unworthy of the gospel of Christ.

The gospel (Matt. 20:1-16) presents us with the parable of the workers who came into a landowner’s vineyard in the morning, afternoon, and evening respectively but were rewarded alike. Those who came earlier grumbled, but the Master said he was not unjust because he gave as he wished. He challenged the wailers for being jealous over his magnanimity. It presents us with three categories of people – Those who came in the morning (early); those who appeared in the afternoon (noon) and those who got there in the evening (late). We shall reflect on what each group represents.

Biblical Allusion

a). Those who came in the morning: Those who came in the morning are the early arrivals. In generally, this refers to the Jews. Jesus was referring to the Pharisees who had all the privileges of knowing about God and attaining salvation, but they kept deceiving themselves and hating the fact that he was offering a chance for tax collectors and sinners to be saved (Cf. Mark 2:13-17).

b). Those who appeared in the afternoon: This is represented by the gentiles who were shown mercy by the Lord to the dismay of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan (Cf. Luke 10:25-37) to prove this point. His praise of the Canaanite woman’s faith is also indicative of the point at issue. Repeatedly he would tell the crowd that he was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.

c). Those who got there in the evening: The late comers are the prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners who got the red-carpet treatment much like the legitimate heirs of the kingdom. In this category of those who arrived late are, Zacchaeus tax collector, the thief on the cross, Mary Magdalene the prostitute who was exorcised of seven demons and Saint Paul who terribly persecuted the Church.

Contemporary Application

a). Morning-Christians: In our time, those who came in the morning are represented by morning-Christians – those who were born and baptized in the Church. The privilege of born Catholic, presented in the Church, baptized, catechized, and given the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation should ordinarily make these Christians more Catholic than anyone else – unfortunately, some end up leaving the church; others are nominal or cultural Christians. There are some that even antagonize the Church. Their only affiliation to the Church is their baptismal card or the faith of their parents. Conversely, those who are in good standing often expect more favours from God or attention by the Church – Today Jesus says, the matter is beyond these affiliations.

b). Afternoon-Christians: Afternoon-Christians are those who came into the Catholic Church through marriage or conversion. From experience, they often outrun morning-Christians in matters of faith and morals. In fact, they are more generous to the Church that those who were raised Catholic. Will they get the same reward as those who were born and bred in the Church? Jesus says, yes.

c). Evening-Christians: Those are those who got into the harvest at the twilight of their lives – most times, these are persons who ask for the priest while on their death beds. Since God does not refuse good gifts to his children, the baptism or last sacrament they receive assures them of eternal salvation – at least that is what our faith tells us.

Summary Lines

 

1. In the first reading (Isaiah 55:6-9), the Prophet Isaiah tells the people of Israel to seek the Lord while assuring that he is near.

 

2. In the second reading (Phil 1:20c-24.27), St. Paul states that life for him is Christ but death would bring him something greater.

 

3. Avoid anything that is unworthy of the gospel of Christ.

 

4. The gospel reading (Matthew 20:1-16) presents us with the parable of the workers who came into a landowner’s vineyard in the morning, afternoon and evening respectively but were rewarded alike.

 

5. He (Jesus) challenged the wailers for being jealous over his magnanimity.

 

Conclusion

 

We must realize that those who came late were not lazy – they arrived late because no one hired them. Besides, you would realize that the harvest is large, and everyone worked hard. This implies that the Lord’s vineyard is very vast – with many grasses. From the Israelites to the Gentiles and the 12 apostles to us, Jesus keeps recruiting people into his harvest. As such, no one should worry about a bigger wage. Whether we got into the harvest in the morning, noon, or evening, may the Holy Spirit help us to fix our gaze on the ultimate reward without begrudging others who found themselves in the caravan rather late. Ours is a God of all. Happy Sunday!

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