Friday, September 16, 2011

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Year A; Reflections- Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Twenty- Fifth Sunday of Year A: Reflections – Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 55:6-9; Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18 and Phil 1: 20c-24,27a and Matt 20:1-16a.

 Merciful God: A Generous  Father to All

Today we celebrate the surprising goodness and the generosity of God to everyone without boundaries. In Psalm 145, the Covenant of this same God endures for ever. His ways  are not only just but right; his greatness unsearchable. He is always near to all who call him, including those he sets free from the bondage of sin and exile.

 Humanly, this exile must have been painful and complete restoration challenging and frightening. Isaiah is absolutely right, that God’s thoughts were above theirs just as heavens were above the earth (Isa 55:8-9).  Restoration indeed is on the way, but there has to be new world of forgiveness, love and peace, worship of true God and of course complete repentance and acceptance of others!

God must be sought where he may be found (vv 6-7), especially in how we treat one another; and in how we forgive one another, in how we become less jealous  and less resentful of the good fortunes of others who have been likewise, or like us,/like you, blessed by God.

This was the case in today’s Gospel parable where the land owner, God in this case decided to distribute equally his wealth of denarius ,to  three groups of laborers  whom he had employed in the morning hours (6 and 9 am ) and late in the evening that same day. He rightly says he was not unjust because he has not broken the contract he had with the first two groups as stipulated by the law (Lev 19:13 and Deut 24:14-15).

 Quite similar in a way, to the story of the loving Father in the narrative of the prodigal son in Luke 11:11-32, the land owner(God) here is wondering whether he no longer has freedom to use what belongs to him as it pleases, including helping the evening employee who had been neglected to idleness (Matt 20:3, 7) by the status quo- put in place by a few privileged.

For those with narrow-minded sense of justice and spirituality, who grumble for no reason,  jealous and sad about the good fortunes of others, mercy, love, true justice, forgiveness of sins, generosity and universality belong to God, who distribute them as He wants, be it in the morning, after noon or evening. God can write on crooked lines. He can turn a “denarius a day” (Matt 20:2) into a “denarius each” (Matt 20: 9).

This parable sound familiar to us in a world or rising unemployment and resentfulness of others at home and work places even in the corridors of churches, synagogues and other religious structures.  It reminds us of the need to pray for our government, and the teaming  unemployed, homeless and the uninsured of our society today.  Particularly, as Christian/religious communities of faith and labor we want to constantly accept “many” new comers of all walks of life to Christ the author and sustainer of all labor factories and work places, who hires for His Vineyard, as he pleases.

  Also cognizant of  so “many” that are working hard  to discern their calling,  and to live their marriages or celibacy ,  we want to  constantly encourage  them including  members of our particular faith communities in  a way worthy of the gospel of Christ ( Phil 1:27).