SUNDAY REFLECTION - Sunday, September 24th 2017

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Matt. 20:1   “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5 When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6 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?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 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.’ 13 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? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matt 20:1-16

1. “I was there first”.   Envy easily comes to the surface when faced with the good fortune of others, especially when compared to what seems less favourable treatment of ourselves.   Can you recall that feeling in yourself and what it did to you?   Can you also recall times when you were content with your lot, even though it seemed others had greater gifts, better opportunities, etc.

2. A parent or teacher who gives a lot of time to a difficult child does not love the others less, but if we are one of those other children we may not see that.  Recall a “Jesus person’ in your life who helped you to overcome feelings of envy and helped you appreciate that the apparently more favourable treatment of another did not mean a lessening of love for you.

3. Generosity can make us uncomfortable.  We feel more comfortable when we see ourselves as having done something to deserve the generosity.  But perhaps you can recall a moment of great need, when you were at the receiving end of someone’s generosity, a time when you recognised you had done nothing to ‘deserve’ that response, a time when all you could do was to say ‘thanks’?

4. This leads us to the core message of this parable, namely, that God’s love is a free gift and not earned. Recall moments when you were particularly conscious of the gift that God’s love is to you.

5. “It is too late now” are words sometimes uttered to justify doing nothing about a situation.   This parable tells us that where love is involved, it is never too late.  Can you recall times when you got a positive response after taking action when you thought it was “too late”?

John Byrne (INTERCOM)