Word To Life
Sunday Scripture Readings, Sept. 18, 2011
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
September 18, Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A Readings:
1) Isaiah 55:6-9
Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
2) Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16a
The Scriptures this weekend emphasize the great mercy of our God, offering hope to those not yet joined to him.
This is made clear in the Isaiah reading, which pleads, "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way. ... For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord."
The Gospel parable demonstrates God's generosity when the laborers who have been at work only an hour receive the same day's wage as those who have labored the whole day.
Those who worked all day but were paid last grumble.
The owner of the vineyard ultimately responds, "Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?"
About 30 years ago, I was the editor of "Ultreya," the magazine of the Cursillo movement in the U.S. For those unfamiliar with this lay renewal movement, Cursillo is a "short course in Christianity" that originated in Spain and began in the U.S. in 1957.
One article I ran was written by a Hispanic cursillista who happened to be from north Fort Worth. In it, she addressed the lack of hospitality being shown some young men living in her neighborhood who had come here looking for work.
She encouraged her neighbors -- and fellow cursillistas -- to welcome them, reach out to them and invite them to take part in church activities instead of reacting with hostility to these newcomers.
Within about six years of the article's publication, most of those people she had sought to include in the life of her neighborhood and church had become naturalized U.S. citizens with the help of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
The initial hostility toward these immigrants reminds me of the laborers' anger in today's readings. Their resentment toward these who received God's great generosity built separation and kept them from perceiving them as their neighbors.
I wonder if it's not possible that many today reject some who are their neighbors who have come here simply seeking the reward of a day's labor, enough to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their families.
Do you know people who have turned from lives of great sin to embrace God? What can we learn from these who come late to the eucharistic banquet?
SCRIPTURE TO ILLUSTRATE:
"What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?" (Matthew 20:15a)
Copyright © 2011 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS Word To Life column may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method, in whole or in part without the prior written authority of Catholic News Service.