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God’s love is limitless generosity Print E-mail
Written by Jem Sullivan   
Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017

25th Sunday
in Ordinary Time

Is 55:6-9
Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Phil 1:20-24, 27
Gospel: Mt 20:1-16

Gospel parables often contain a paradox meant to open us to a deeper understanding of who God is and who we are in relationship to God. To unpack the deeper meaning of the parable takes time, reflection, and silence.

At times, we are challenged to “think outside the box” to understand the meaning of God’s word. This is particularly true of today’s Gospel parable that invites us to reflect on how different God’s ways are from our ways.

At first glance, the scene in the Gospel appears unfair, even unjust, as workers who come at the 11th hour are paid the same as those who work all day. From a purely human point of view, it doesn’t make sense. And that’s when we realize something deeper is unfolding.

The parable is not a lesson on how to run a business or payroll. In fact, it has nothing to do with economics. To understand the meaning of Jesus’ words, we look to the times when Jesus first spoke the parable.

Then, a vineyard was a symbol for the people of Israel. And the owner was an image for God’s generous love revealed in Jesus’ ministry of healing, preaching, and teaching.

Those who worked the entire day were like the many devout, pious people of Jesus’ day. They would receive their just reward at the right time. Those who were hired at midday are like those who live on the margins of society and respond in faith to Jesus’ message.

Finally, there are sinners, tax collectors, and outcasts. They are getting much more than they deserve or have worked for. They are receiving the overflowing generosity and compassion of God’s love.

Jesus extends God’s mercy and generosity, even to sinners and outcasts, to the poor, and the defenseless. Coming into God’s presence, we resist the temptation to focus on our rights and our expectations.

God is infinitely generous in ways that go beyond human standards of fairness and justice. God’s love is limitless generosity, as the prophet Isaiah affirms when he invites the people of Israel to turn to the Lord for mercy.

God’s word today challenges us to make generosity and compassion a way of life.


Jem Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

 
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