25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 24, 2023
Reading 1 Is 55:6-9 Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18 R. (18a) The Lord is near to all who call upon him. Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD and highly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable. R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works. R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him. The LORD is just in all his ways and holy in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Reading 2 Phil 1:20c-24, 27a Brothers and sisters: Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Alleluia Cf. Acts 16:14b R. Alleluia, alleluia. Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 20:1-16a Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.' When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.' He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?' Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."
This parable of Jesus teaches profound lessons about the nature of God's grace, fairness, and the concept of the kingdom of heaven.
In this parable, the landowner represents God, the divine source of all creation. God is portrayed as a generous and compassionate figure who seeks to bring people into His vineyard, symbolizing the kingdom of heaven.
The laborers hired at different times during the day can be seen as souls or individuals seeking a relationship with God and entry into His kingdom. Each laborer represents a person's spiritual journey.
The usual daily wage that the laborers receive can be interpreted as God's grace and salvation. It is freely given to all who respond to His call, regardless of when they join the journey. This emphasizes that God's grace is not earned through works but is a gift.
The marketplace symbolizes the world where people are living their lives. Some may respond to God's call early in life (dawn), while others may come to faith later (noon, three o'clock, five o'clock).
The parable challenges our human notions of fairness. When the laborers who worked longer hours see that those who worked only a short time receive the same wage, they feel it's unjust. This underscores the idea that God's grace is equal for all, regardless of their past or the length of their journey.
The landowner's response, "Are you envious because I am generous?" reflects God's infinite generosity and His right to extend His grace as He sees fit. It reminds us that God's ways are beyond our understanding and that we should not question His wisdom and love.
The parable concludes with the statement, "Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last." This suggests that our worldly status, achievements, or the timing of our conversion do not determine our place in God's kingdom. Instead, it's our willingness to accept God's grace and follow His path that truly matters.
In short, this parable teaches us the spiritual truth that God's grace is abundant, available to all who seek it, and not dependent on human merit. It challenges us to let go of judgments and comparisons, recognizing that God's love and generosity transcend our human understanding. It encourages humility, gratitude, and a deeper appreciation for the inclusiveness of God's kingdom.