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Homilies/Reflections

DOING THINGS IN BIGGER WAYS. A reflection for the 25th Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year A.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 20 Sep 2020

Readings: Is 55:6-9; Phil1:20-24,7; Mt 20:1-16

     In today’s jet age, we need both faith and reason to stand up and walk our way to the work of God with one another. But we must first learn the dialogue of faith and reason. We have to be clear in our hearts on the distinctions between our human logic and God’s gift of faith to us. The later saves us from the grudging that human sense poses over the eternal nature of God’s grace and mercy.

    The mercy of God is God’s compassion. It shows God as “rich in giving,” based on God’s thoughts and ways. Who can see it all but God? Who can know with finality except for God? Thus, the message of Isaiah today only declares the obvious when it reminds us to seek God whose ways and thoughts are different and better than ours. The test of faith-and-reason-in-dialogue does not lie in our sense of human justice. We cannot comprehend God’s justice and mercy. But we must trust in the boundless generosity of God to save.

   We can also take the example of Paul in today’s second reading. Paul was a man who learned how to abandon one’s ways. He came round to reworking his life in a new manner of working for Christ. Paul strode the path of life, knowing that, “life to me is Christ.” Paul tried to live every day, mindful of his new conviction that “Christ will be glorified in my body, whether by my life or my death” (Phil 1:20). Now, such a life of total faith commitment has a good reason behind it. We can say that faith and reason struck a useful dialogue in Paul.

   With Isaiah and Paul, we can come to today’s Gospel parable with a deep sense of curiosity. Here comes the interest of fair wage for the various workers of the Master’s vineyard. But our curiosity will indeed be empty unless we also add to it the wonder of faith. Does it not confront our sense of justice and fairness to hear that the late arrivals to work got paid first then the early birds? Are we not like those early workers desirous of higher pay than the casual workers? But who amongst us resemble those later laborers? They did not care for agreements but went into work, abandoning themselves and their fate to the goodwill of the Master. In trusting the Vineyard owner to do what was right by them, their faith illumined their reason. Or rather, they still believed notwithstanding what they knew.

     Faith is not always reasonable. The totally unreasonable and the completely unexpected are very much familiar in the arena of faith. But how? Because “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways – says the Lord” (Is 55:8). Therefore, to understand today’s Gospel message is to learn not just the limits of human logic or reason, but to accept the wisdom of God over our limited vision of justice and fair-play. Yes, in the market, because of market forces, people are paid what they are worth. Yet, by faith and in virtue of Divine grace, God chooses and gives the more standard wages even to the least deserving who trust God’s mercy, generosity, or compassion for their lives.

    Today, we must learn that fortunes are reverse where providence is involved. And the last to come may become the first to be paid! If you chose to be angry because God is generous, then remember the wedding at Cana in Galilee and the choice of wine gifted there (Jn 2:6). Recall also the many baskets full of food left-over after everyone ate as much as they wanted (Mk 6:43). And now, the whole day’s wages, even to those laborers arriving by the eleventh hour (Mt 20:9). Keep in mind that other parameters come to the judgment where God’s case is involved.

 

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