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Scripture Reflection: 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Full readings may be found on the USCCB website.

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.

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."


“As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways.”

The passage we read from the prophet Isaiah seems like how a parents might answer the questions of their young child: “You can't understand now, but I have my reasons.” A marked difference, however, is that God constantly reveals His ways to us. He does not function as a dictator, but as a teacher. Through the Scriptures and the Church's teachings, God's ways are revealed to us so that we may understand them and live by them.

One such way is in God's generosity. In the Gospel, Jesus tells of a landowner hiring workers for his vineyard. At the end of the day, he pays a full day's wages to each person, regardless to how many hours were worked. This seems obnoxious to those who have worked all day long. Even though they receive a fair and honest pay, they anticipate more. We might be tempted to judge this landowner as a poor economist.

Jacob Willemsz de Wet - 17th C.

But Jesus is not merely describing an economic dilemma here. Rather, he presents the radical generosity of God which we should mirror in our own generosity. The landowner provides for the needs of each person, and thus does God pour out His grace to each person in abundance and excess. He does not love someone less because they come to Him late. His love transcends our worldly limitations. Our role is to receive His grace, to give Him thanks, and go into the world proclaiming the wonder of His ways!

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