Bulletin: September 20, 2020
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Children are usually still quite young the first time they have occasion to shout, “That’s not fair!” At some point in our lives, we’ve probably all felt the bitterness of unfairness. Today’s readings agree that life isn’t always fair—yet, unexpectedly, invite us to rejoice! We rejoice because God’s mercy is totally unfair: God lavishes us with forgiveness and love even when we deserve less. Both the reading from Isaiah and the psalm praise the great mercy of God, mercy that forgives our sins over and over. In the Gospel parable, Jesus demonstrates that God longs to give good things to all of us, even to those who seem less worthy. When Saint Paul reflects on God’s goodness, embodied in Jesus Christ, he can hardly wait to enter his heavenly reward. AN UNEXPECTED LESSON Jesus’ parable depicts workers who “punch the clock” at various times throughout the long day: dawn, nine, noon, three, and five o’clock. Regardless of when they began working in the vineyard, the laborers all receive the same reward. The reward seems lavish to the latecomers, of course, and shockingly unfair to the long-faithful workers. The landowner soothes his most dutiful laborers, however, delighting in them as friends and transforming their bitter confrontation into a reflection on generosity. The laborers who arrived at five o’clock might have been late to the job, but those who began at the crack of dawn were last to understand the extravagant bounty of the landowner. Seen in this way, the parable discusses not only God’s generosity toward “unworthy” believers, but also the Lord’s inexhaustible patience toward those who thought they had nothing more to learn. BEGINNING AGAIN Today’s readings provide sweet refreshment to all of us who know the bitterness of discouragement. No matter how stubbornly we determine to improve ourselves, the human condition often leaves us in puddles of failure and regret. Jesus has a new plan for us. Today’s Gospel parable demonstrates the mercy of God, mercy that rejoices in fresh beginnings. We take comfort in knowing that God accompanies us in our labors—and works for us—whether we struggle with caring for our bodies, striving for patience, avoiding gossip, making time for prayer, being generous, overcoming addiction, remaining in recovery, or simply attending to our daily work. Jesus shows us that he actively engages with us each time we fall short. From dawn to dusk, the Lord seeks us out, calling us to join him in the vineyard. Now, today, right this moment, is our dawn. Or our nine o’clock. Or noon? Ignore the clock! Jesus invites us to forget past failures; divine mercy wipes them away. Today’s psalm insists that the “Lord is near to all who call upon him.” In hope, then, we begin again.