Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(September 21, 2008) Mt. 20: 1-16
There is probably a certain amount of comfort in the realization that our God is a God that we can’t figure out; a God who does some things that we will never really understand within our limited, human nature. Knowing this, I should quit banging my head against the wall trying to put God into my way of thinking and try to figure out why God does some of the things that he does.
I have, for instance, read the parable given for our consideration on this Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, hundreds of times and I must admit that every time I read it I come away with the feeling that someone is getting ripped off. If someone else works seven hours more than another, they should not both be paid the same. And that is the way human beings think. That is our sense of justice. But it isn’t God’s way. And I wonder if I will ever really understand God’s way while I am here on this earth.
According to today’s Gospel, God is compassionate and merciful to a degree we know not. Those who worked all day and received a full days’ pay for their work have no complaint if God chooses to be generous to others. There is a compassion here that is beyond our sense of compassion and consequently it is difficult for us to understand. We measure things out according to the number of hours worked and go from there with the payment. God is compassionate, generous, loving and forgiving to a degree that our measured-out sense of justice cannot comprehend. Quite simply, I think the point of this parable is that God’s ways are not our ways and we will never fully understand God’s ways while we are here on earth. And our attempts to do so are always going to fall short. I think that this is perhaps what St. Thomas Aquinas had in mind when, after finishing his Summa Theologica, one of the greatest theological works ever written, he made the remark that it was all grass and he was going to burn it.
We can also use this parable to understand that those who come late in life to the Kingdom of God are going to be received with the same love of God that many will have who have been so-called cradle Catholics. Maybe they were what we might call terrible sinners. That makes no difference to God. If they repent and come to the Lord, they will be received into the Kingdom just like one who has walked with the Lord all their life. And Christ invites us to rejoice with those and for those who have entered the Kingdom late in the day. We really shouldn’t get all bent out of shape and feel cheated because they don’t measure up to our standards and then judge them to be less worthy than ourselves. My God, how great and mysterious you are!
Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(September 22, 2008) Luke 8: 16-18
The Gospel given to us for our reflection on this first day of the Autumn Season reminds me of another parable in the Gospel of Matthew 25: 14. Here we find the Parable of the Talents and you may recall that it is about a man who went on a journey and who called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one, he gave five talents; to another, two; and to a third, one – each received according to his ability. He expected them to take the talents and invest them thus making a profit for him on his return. Two of them did invest the talents and doubled the amount given to them. The third, however, buried the talent in the ground for safe keeping and made nothing. Needless to say, he was not the apple of the man’s eye when he returned from his journey.
Today’s Gospel urges us to take what we have been given and use it to light up the world. Kind of like the old song: This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine. Everywhere I go, I’m gonna’ let it shine. Jesus gave it to me, I’m gonna’ let it shine.
Our gifts and talents don’t do anyone any good if we bury them or cover them up so they bring forth no light. A good reflection on this Gospel might be to make a list of our talents and ask ourselves if we are using them for the good of our neighbor, if we are letting them shine forth for all to see. We must remember that this is why they were given to us in the first place.
Tuesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(September 23, 2008) St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Pio Pietrelcina, better known to the world today simply as “Padre Pio.” He was born on May 25, 1887, in the small Italian town of Pietrelcina. He was very devout as a child and it was no surprise when he joined the Capuchin Franciscan Friars and received the habit of the Order in 1902. He went on to be ordained a priest in 1910.
On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was praying in front of a large crucifix when he received from Christ the gift of the visible marks of the crucified Savior on his body. He was the first priest in the history of the Church to receive the stigmata. Padre Pio used to hear confessions from ten to twelve hours a day and brought many people close to God. He died on September 23, 1968, at the age of 81. His funeral was attended by over 100,000 people. He was canonized a Saint of the church by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2002.
Padre Pio, pray for us.
Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(September 24, 2008) Luke 9: 1-6
Our Gospel for this Wednesday has Jesus sending his disciples forth to preach, drive out demons, and to heal the sick. They were to proclaim the Kingdom of God to all they met. There is nothing in the Gospel specifically to indicate that Jesus was in a hurry, yet when I read these words I somehow get the feeling of a sense of urgency in the way Jesus is telling his disciples to travel. They are to travel lightly, as the Gospel tell us. Their “taking nothing for the journey” also indicates that they were to rely on Jesus for help.
And so it is in our evangelization efforts today. There is a sense of urgency, a sense of “let’s get moving.” Time’s a’ wasting, as they say. All of us are to be involved in spreading the word of Jesus. We can do this in so many ways every day with the people we meet. The values of Jesus are important for our world and we too must rely on the help of Jesus to spread them around. We are all missionaries. Lord, help us in our mission work for your word and your values.
Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(September 25, 2008) Luke 9: 7-9
“Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
Herod had heard about the preaching of the disciples and was upset at what he heard. He wondered who it was who was doing it. Some were saying that John the Baptist, whom Herod had killed, had risen from the dead or that one of the ancient Prophets had risen and was back on the scene. Actually, he wasn’t too far off base. Jesus, the one he was really wondering about, was the sum total of all the Prophets that had gone before. Jesus was the one about whom they all prophesied. “And Herod kept trying to see him.” Herod was trying to see Jesus, to know who he was but he was looking in all the wrong places. Herod was looking among the vain, the proud, the jealous, the worshippers of political power. If he had looked among the humble, the poor, those who served others, he might have found at least a hint of the Jesus he sought. Where do we look for Jesus?
Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(September 26, 2008) Luke 9: 18-22
We remember from having read this Gospel selection not too long ago that Peter answered Jesus’ question about who he was by saying: “You are the Christ of God.” But moments later Peter’s faith was tested when Jesus told him that this “Christ of God” was going to suffer, die and rise again on the third day. Peter, with his idea of who Christ was, could not handle this information.
How many times do we let the crises of life test our faith and sometimes cause us to flee from Christ? How many times, when I was in trouble in my life I ran away from Jesus, ran away from what I deeply believed? That was just when I needed my faith the most. Things turned around when I turned around and ran toward Jesus with my problems instead of running away from him. Have you ever run in the wrong direction?
Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(September 27, 2008) St. Vincent de Paul
St. Vincent de Paul, whose Memorial we celebrate today, was born in the Gascony region of France, c. 1580. His first schooling was under the Franciscan Fathers. He was chosen as a home-teacher by a rich gentleman for his children and Vincent continued his education with the funds he made from this job. In 1596 he went to the University of Toulouse and was ordained a priest in 1600. After ordination he again became a home-teacher for a Count. In 1617 he began to preach missions and laid the foundation for a religious congregation that later became the Congregation of the Lazarists, so-called because of the Priory of St. Lazarus where the missionaries began to live in 1633.
Charity was the predominant virtue of St. Vincent de Paul. It made no difference to whom he directed his ministry. All classes and all ages of people benefited from his charitable work. The Sisters of Charity were founded by St. Vincent. He received many honors for the work he did, but always managed to remain a humble person. He died in Paris at the age of eighty. He is the patron saint of charitable organizations.
St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.