Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we listened to the words of God through the Scriptures speaking to us about the importance for us to put the Lord above ourselves, that we should not forget of His love and kindness, all the days of our life. All of these have been shown to us through the readings we have just heard, and we should spend some time to reflect on them.

First of all, we listened to the Gospel passage today in which Jesus told His disciples the parable of the workers of the vineyard, who were employed by the master of the vineyard, gathering them from the streets and employing them to work at his vineyard for a wage promised to them. And each and every one of them were paid a silver coin regardless of the time when they started working for the day. Some of the men started working early in the day while others only in the last hour.

The men who started working earlier in the day complained against the master of the vineyard, alleging that they should have been paid more, since they have laboured much more and harder than those who just worked barely an hour at the last hour when the master got the last of those whom he called to work in his vineyard. They thought that it was unfair for those people to get the same amount for the lesser amount of work they have done.

But the master of the vineyard rebuked the workers who grumbled and complained, saying that the amount of wage had been agreed with them beforehand, and as he was the master of the vineyard and the employer, it was also his right to decide what to give as a fair and just compensation for the employees. In reality, as we heard this story, we are actually looking at the story of mankind itself.

In that parable, the workers represent each and every one of us, the people of God, whom He had called from the world, and into His vineyard, that represents His Church and His kingdom. The master of the harvest is God Himself, Who called all of us mankind to follow Him and to become His disciples. Those who came to work earlier are those who have been called by God earlier, and have received the promise of His salvation earlier, with the pay being the salvation promised to us.

Meanwhile, those who came later and those who came on the last hour are those who the Lord eventually managed to call into His embrace, after long period of waiting and searching. They might have taken a different path and time to come to the Lord, but nonetheless, all of them are promised the same gift, that is the gift of salvation and eternal life.

What is then, the meaning of today’s readings? It is a reminder to each one of us that as Christians we must always be concerned about others, be caring and loving towards others, be selfless and humble, and be obedient towards God, and not to be selfish and haughty. What we have heard in the Gospel, is the animosity that the workers who came earlier had on the latter workers, because they thought that their labours made them to deserve more pay.

In the end, everything was about the self, the ego, and the desire that we have to please ourselves, to satisfy ourselves, and to fulfil our wants and wishes. That is our way, the way that we are familiar with, but not the way that God wants each one of us as Christians to follow in our lives. In the first reading today, the prophet Isaiah mentioned in his book, that our ways are not God’s ways, and His ways are far greater than ours, and His thoughts are different from our thoughts.

It is this same message which in our second reading today, St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, about the choice that we must make in life, between following our human desires and wants, or following God’s ways and will. We may even be torn between the two choices, and coerced or pressurised to do what the world wants us to do. Yet, as Christians all of us must persevere through these and stand up for our faith.

Are we able to overcome the desire to be pampered and the sense of privilege and the desire to be satisfied? Are we able to get rid of our greed for money and the wish to be rewarded for our work? Many of us tend to look down on others whom we deem to be less holy and not as good as us, and we tend to despise them and even become angry when they were counted among us the faithful, because we think that we deserve better than that.

And that is because we think and act in terms of the world, in terms of our own standards and ways. But we often forget that God does not work upon the same way and standard as ours, as He does not differentiate us based on how much we have done, and how great we have become in the sight of this world, but rather, whether each one of us have that genuine love and commitment to Him, from our hearts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listen to these words of the Scripture and the reminders given to us by the Church, let us all strive to become what the Lord had wanted us to be, that is to become smaller in our pride and instead become greater in our humility. The more devout and faithful we are to the Lord, the more humble we should become, and the more love we should show, not just for the Lord but also for our fellow brethren, especially those who are still in the darkness and have not yet heard of the Lord’s salvation.

Therefore, let us all rejoice whenever the Lord brings one of our brothers and sisters to salvation through His Church. Let us welcome them with love and care, compassion and mercy, and let us also not become obstacles in the works of God’s love, but instead give our very best to help those who are still separated from God’s love, that they too may be saved, and together we may give glory to God forevermore. May God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 20 : 1-16a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.”

“He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.’ So they went. The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer.”

“Again he went out, at the last working hour – the eleventh – and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.'”

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.”

“They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.’ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?'”

“So will it be : the last will be first.”

Sunday, 24 September 2017 : Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philippians 1 : 20c-24, 27a

Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labour. Which shall I choose?

So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life. Try, then, to adjust your lives according to the Gospel of Christ.