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Scripture Reflections

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 24

Isaiah 55:6-9
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20: 1-16a

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

How difficult it is to understand today’s Gospel! Any self-respecting union would be up in arms at the arbitrary treatment the landowner gave to his workers. “Unfair,” we cry at the first hearing. Then, as we simmer down and think, we have to admit that the landowner has a point in his defense. It’s his money, and he can do what he wants with it. Actually, the grumbling of those who had worked a full day was their problem. They were envious, and envy is a very human vice. Since it’s a parable told by Jesus, the landowner is obviously God, and God always wins. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” says the Lord. It’s all right there in today’s first reading from Isaiah.

Now we really have to face the lesson of the day: if my ways of thinking and judging are truly far from the Lord’s way, then I must have some adjusting to do! Perhaps I need to work harder in the areas of forgiveness, mercy and generosity, to mention a few.

St. Paul urges the Philippians today to conduct themselves in a way that is “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

If I’m honest, I have to admit that I look for apologies more than I give them out myself. And I use the excuse that I’m the injured party, so why should I go first! That leads me to harbor grudges, to make mountains out of molehills, and so extend the hurt into months and years, when I could end the whole thing quickly by reconciling immediately. How sad to see a son or a daughter keep their distance from a dying parent, even refusing to attend the funeral! Now, maybe that’s an extreme example, but…how many times have I waited to reconcile until it was too late? The pain and stress on both parties is so unnecessary. Both are the losers. To forgive is to be free, and to free the other person as well. Once we have reconciled with a friend who has offended us or who we have offended, we open the way to form a new and closer relationship. And that could give us joy for years… instead of prolonged stress and unhappiness.

To think as God thinks requires openness and a broad vision, free of self-pity and selfish brooding. It takes a habit of gratitude. It means sitting down and reflecting, “What would God think and do in this situation?” and then, to think and do likewise.

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