TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, September 20, 2020
ISAIAH 55:6-9. PHILIPPIANS 1:20C-24, 27A MATTHEW 20:1-16A
In the first reading today Isaiah tells us, “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him when he is near.” This is a perfect one-sentence com- mentary on the Gospel passage.
Jesus is describing a familiar scene in this par- able of the workers in the vineyard. In late Septem- ber, during the grape harvest, landowners were al- ways desperate for workers. The grapes came to maturity shortly before the October rains. If the harvest wasn’t brought in before the rains began everything would be lost. Landowners would go to the marketplace to hire as many of the unemployed and migrant workers they could in order to get the harvest in as fast as possible.
Slaves and house servants were much better off than these day laborers because they could rely on their masters to feed them and care for their fami- lies. The day-laborers were on their own. They were the lowest paid in their society, about two dollars a day. Their existence was always precarious.
In the parable, the landowner went out at 6 am, 9 am, noon, 3 pm and 5 pm. The work day ended at 6 pm. At the end of the day the landowner gave each man the same pay, two dollars. He was very generous, but at the same time it seems unjust to pay the all the workers the same. What’s the teaching be- hind the parable?
The vineyard is ready for harvest. Within these grapes the kingdom awaits its manifestation – the wine of peace and harmony, of joy and love. God, the landowner, is inviting anyone and everyone to help collect the harvest, even if it’s only an hour.
As Isaiah says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near.” God is reaching out to us every minute of every day to join his work force. Are you ready to help manifest the kingdom of God on earth?
My heavenly Father, I pray to you today to
heal and transform the suffering world we have created. I offer myself to you as a poor worker committed to gathering your harvest. May your new wine be put into new wineskins so that your kingdom may manifest itself in a new world where your will may reign as in heaven. Thank you for feeding me with your daily bread that I may remain strong as I labor to harvest your vineyard. And so it is. Amen.
- Published in Church Reflections