Sunday, September 20 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
In preparation for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I invite you to spend some time pondering the Gospel that will be read in the liturgy this Sunday, which is the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.
“Jesus was a master teacher. His parables inspired and they were remembered in part because they were simple stories that conveyed multiple layers of meaning. Each story seems to have a variety of possible entry points, as does today’s gospel. Is the landowner truly just when he gives all the workers the same wage? What would unionized workers say about this practice? Why does the landowner distribute wages in the manner he does, with those who worked the longest receiving their pay last? Is he trying to incite a riot, or maybe inspire jealousy and envy?
All of these questions and more may be conjured up by a quick reading of the parable. Not only was Jesus a master teacher, but we recall that he taught two thousand years ago! One challenge is that some of his stories are set deeply in the milieu of his context. The parable is not in fact making statements about modern labor law or the role of unions or day laborers. Instead, landowners in Jesus’ time had incredible power over workers and over their property. Perhaps because there were no labor unions, guest worker programs, or labor laws to protect workers, the landowner was able to act with impunity. This kind of power makes for an apt image of a powerful and unaccountable God!
So Jesus uses the character of the landowner in the parable to say that God gives each his or her due at the very least, and he is generous. It is not up to us to tell God how and in what way he is to be generous with his resources. God gives to each what he will, though not less than what he promised.
In the early church this parable was often interpreted in terms of Jews and Gentiles, with Jews being the early workers and Gentiles being those who came late. God gives each a share of his kingdom. All will likely be surprised by the generosity of God and by who appears at the heavenly banquet. Ideally, no one group will think its members are the only ones to share in God’s goodness.
“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” It seems that God’s justice turns everything on its head. The words Jesus speaks at the end of today’s parable could be considered nonsense. The very definition of first is that it comes before all others. And yet, in today’s parable God makes the ones who have worked the longest in his vineyard equal to the ones who have just begun their labor. To add insult to injury, the first hired are the last paid. Jesus warns us against our innate human proclivity to demand what is “fair.” God is generous. He forgives sinners, seeks out the lost, and desires to bring everyone to the joys of everlasting life. As disciples, we are called to embrace this as good news and not as a cause for resentment.” (Living Liturgy 2020)
Last Sunday, Grade 3 students from our five elementary schools began the reception of their 1st Holy Communion. We congratulate the boys and girls from Our Lady of Peace School on this occasion and I ask all of you to keep them in your prayers, that they may come to the understanding of the tremendous gift that Christ has given them, that He came to them under the form of the bread to be their sustenance and food for the journey. And this Sunday we welcome the students from St. Clare of Assisi School who will be celebrating their 1st Holy Communion at the 4PM Mass.
Our Children’s Liturgy team will once again be producing a new weekly virtual liturgy video geared to kids in Junior Kindergarten – Grade 4 starting this Sunday, September 20, and will continue to do so until Children’s Liturgy is able to resume in person. Here is the link to this weekend’s video, which will become active on Sunday morning:
Each video will include prayer, readings of the day, a short lesson or message based on the Gospel, a challenge of the week, and a trivia question that kids can answer for the chance to win prizes! Please encourage the little ones in your life to tune in!
An invitation and reminder to our parishioners who pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy everyday that you can join us virtually on our YouTube channel from Monday to Saturday at 3pm to pray with us as a parish community.
And for those who cannot attend Sunday Mass at this time, we will live-stream the 9am Sunday Mass, starting with the Rosary at 8:30am. Please click on the picture that is provided below.