Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle and the Evangelist, one of the Four Evangelists who wrote the Four Holy Gospels, together with St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John. Consequently, today we also celebrate the occasion of Catechetical Sunday, which if we notice from the name, it refers to catechesis, which is the teaching of the Christian faith, of which no better source is present other than the Four Holy Gospels, one of which was written by St. Matthew.
In these occasions of celebration, we hear the words of the Holy Scriptures, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in our first reading, where the Lord God exhorted His people through Isaiah to seek for Him and not to wait until it is too late, and in it was also an admonition for the pride and desire of mankind, who often thought of themselves as great and mighty, but they are really no more than the servants and creations of God, who should therefore obey His will and not their own selfish desires.
Then we hear the Psalms which exalted the Lord and all His goodness, and how His love and mercy will embrace all things, as well as all of us, if only that we resolve to seek Him and find Him in our lives, and as the Psalm mentioned, that the Lord’s mercy and love are upon those who call on Him. This is why mankind should stop delaying and being slothful, and begin to walk on the path of repentance to seek for God’s infinite mercy.
In the second reading, taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, he reminded the people of God, of the importance of labour and work, and the benefits one may gain if they do their labour for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of His beloved people, our own brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was also highlighted of the importance of the teaching of the Gospels and the faith to the people of God.
Then finally in the Gospel, as written by St. Matthew, we heard how Jesus taught His followers and the disciples using parables, and in today’s Gospel, the parable of the vineyard owner and the workers. In this parable, the vineyard owner employed many people who were unemployed and idle, and he brought them to work in his vineyard. And when the time comes for them to receive their pay, all of them, regardless of their working hours, they all received the same amount of pay, that is one silver coin each.
But the ones who worked for long hours complained before the owner, and they complained to the owner for unjust treatment compared to those who worked very little hours. They argued for the fact that they have been given the same pay although they worked for much longer. The owner then admonished them for their grumbling, and mentioned that they should have been thankful that they have been given the opportunity to work and receive the reward as everyone else had, regardless of the amount.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at it more closely and reflect more intently on the meaning of the words of the Scripture which we have heard today, it should be obvious that God wants us to know about the nature of salvation, and how we can play a part in that work of salvation, and therefore having a part in the salvation of one another, ensuring the security of all of us together in Christ.
The Gospel refers to how the Lord is truly willing to seek out those who are lost from Him, and the owner of the vineyard is Himself the Lord. The unemployed men and the idle ones represent mankind who still live in the darkness of the world and sundered from the Lord their God. The reward that the men received symbolised the promise of salvation and eternal life which God had revealed and vowed to us through Jesus.
And the time of which the men were called refers to none other than the opportunities in life for us, which are plenty, from the beginning and early days of our lives, until even the eleventh hour, and the time near the end. God is actively seeking for us, just as the vineyard owner was actively seeking for employees as he went around the city to look for the unemployed, that is those who are still lost among mankind.
And just as all mankind are equal in the sight of God, regardless of their status, wealth, influence, fame, power and all other things often attached to us, we are all the same before God without any embellishments. And this is perfectly shown in the Gospel, as the owner paid the workers equally without any consideration for the amount of work or for any virtues, and all were paid a silver coin each, just as all of us have equal part in our divine inheritance that is life eternal.
Brethren, it is in our nature to always want more and seek more, and we always think that all of our efforts are definitely ought to be paid, and the world itself had supported this, by enhancing in our minds the thought such that when we do more and put more effort, we are conditioned to demand for more and feel that it is justified for us to demand for more, in accordance to what we did.
Does this seem familiar somehow? Yes, precisely because it exists in our world, and it is indeed the force behind the economical progress and how the economy works in our world. Yes, it is the same as capitalism, in the system where supply and demand controls everything. And that is why we always desire and seek more, because in this system, when it is unbridled and uncontrolled, can lead to excessive materialism and desire for things of the world.
And these are what precisely made it so difficult for many of us to be saved, that is many among mankind, because we are so easily tempted by the goods and the wonders that are in the world, that Satan made that very good opportunity to steer us away from salvation in God. We end up doing things to satisfy our desire and greed for more goodness and pleasures of the world, as shown by the grumbling of those workers who came early to work in the owner’s vineyard. We have much to learn in terms of sharing with one another God’s love and blessing, and not to just be concerned about our own benefits.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this we should learn that our Lord loves us all without exception, even the greatest of sinners. There is always hope in the conversion of sinners, and even the greatest sinner can eventually be turned to the way of the Lord to become the greatest of the saints. Indeed, many great saints were themselves once great sinners. What matters is that they repent from their sinful ways and embrace the ways of the Lord.
St. Matthew himself was once a hated tax collector, a profession which was reviled in the society, and they were seen by their Jewish society as traitors and evil, as those who seemingly collaborated with the Roman, the masters of the world at the time, in oppressing the people with the taxes imposed on them. Yet, St. Matthew, despite the good promises of the job, and the security in life it provided him, he left everything and followed Jesus, and eventually became one of the four great Evangelists who recorded the life and works of Jesus our Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we commemorate the occasions I mentioned earlier for today, we have to always be reminded that we have our roles to play in this world today, that is to embrace, seek out and welcome those who hunger for the truth and the Good News of Christ in the Holy Gospels, and that is why we even celebrate today as the Catechetical Sunday, where we together as the Church, seek to spread the words of salvation of our Lord to all the ends of the earth.
Let us not be proud of our achievements or be greedy for more acclamations for what we had accomplished in life and in our faith. Instead, let us look with love upon those who have less or none, and especially those who have less or none of the faith. Let us not be jealous of them when the Lord offers them the same salvation He had also offered us. Let us rather help each other and together as brothers and sisters in the same Lord, equal in the eyes of God, enter the kingdom of heaven as one people, to praise and worship Him forever more.
Do not wait until the last minute to seek the Lord, too, for we do not know when the time is up for us. If we are late, then there is no more opportunity for us, and we will suffer for eternity together with Satan and his fellow fallen angels. Let us pray that this will not be our fate, and thus let none be lost in the darkness. Amen.