Dear Parish Family,
“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many
false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed,
in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one
of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my
love.’” ~Pope Francis
Tomorrow the 8:00 and 10:00 Masses are full. If you would like to try for stand-by at the
noon Mass, you are welcome to do that.
Just come about 10 minutes early and you will need to wait to be
seated. I will post a link to the 8:00
Mass on the email shortly after lunch.
Next Wednesday, September 23, we will have NO evening Mass. Father Kevin and Pam will both be out of
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah
the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel
forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for
mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your
thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are
above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps
145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Second Reading: Philippians
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to
me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall
choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and
be with Christ,
for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary
for your benefit. Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of
told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire
laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily
wage, he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is
So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three
o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, the landowner
found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all
day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner
of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their
pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had
started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So,
when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of
them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against
the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made
them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My
friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual
daily wage? Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to
do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
parable of the generous vineyard owner: “‘Are you envious because I am
generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16a
Life is not easy right now — for
some of us, things could not get any worse.
I always hate to use the thought it can’t get any worse as it always
seems to be able to get worse. At least
that has been my experience. Our
frustrations and impatience get the better of us. We avoid confrontation for
the most part, but we quietly seethe at being disrespected or dismissed or overlooked.
Gratitude is a much more
difficult attitude to embrace — it demands a total re-calibration of how we
look at our life and world.
In his book “The Lord Is My
Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm,” Harold S. Kushner reflects
on the importance — and blessings — of gratitude:
“I read of a person who had
formed the habit of writing Thank you on the lower left corner of every check
he wrote. When he paid his electric bill or his phone bill, he would write
Thank you to express his gratitude to the companies that made those services
available to him at the press of a button. Even when he paid his taxes, he
would write Thank you on the check as a way of reminding himself (he didn’t
think the Internal Revenue Service would notice it) that his taxes were the
price he willingly paid for living in the United States with all of its
benefits. . . .
“Each night as I prepare
for bed, I put drops in my eyes to fend off the threat of glaucoma that would
rob me of my sight and take from me the pleasure of reading. Each morning at
breakfast, I take a pill to control my blood pressure, and each evening at
dinner I take another to lower my cholesterol level. But instead of lamenting
the ailments that come with growing older, instead of wishing I were as young
and fit as I once was, I take my medicine with a prayer of thanks that modern
science has found ways to help me cope with these ailments. I think of all my
ancestors who didn’t live long enough to develop the complications of old age,
and did not have pills to take when they did.”
The kingdom of God that Jesus
proclaims is centered in a spirit of gratitude for what we have received and
the humility to seek to share those blessings with others – and in that spirit
of gratitude, we discover the happiness that is centered in the Spirit of God.
The workers in today’s Gospel feel cheated by the vineyard owner’s generosity –
their resentment at their coworkers’ good fortune diminishes them and clouds
any satisfaction in being able to provide for their families. Jesus calls us to
a change in perspective: to look beyond what we do not have and realize and
rejoice in all that we have been given, including the love of family and
friends, good health, opportunities to learn and grow, the freedom and
resources to live lives of fulfillment and meaning.
Today’s Gospel does not square
with the “deal” we believe we have with God. God’s generosity strikes
us as “unfair.” We begrudge God’s “extravagant,” almost
irresponsible mercy. But the parable of the generous vineyard owner exposes our
tendency to evaluate everything in terms of dollars and cents, about getting
the best deal possible – for me. But notice what’s missing in the attitude of
the workers in Jesus’ story: grace. While we’re pursuing fairness, God bestows
grace in the form of generosity and understanding and second chances to the
point of, in our estimation, foolish extravagance. Discipleship is to trust in
the goodness of God despite our judgement of what is “fair” and
“just.” When we trust in the mercy of God it enables us to appreciate
all that we have received at God’s hand, compelling us to experience the joy of
sharing all that we have been given with those who have not realized such
blessings in their lives.
Caring about one another,
seeking what is good and right for someone else regardless of the cost and
impact on us is the heart of the Gospel.
The parable of the generous landowner challenges us to recognize that
this is how God deals with us and how he calls us to treat others in imitation
Remember Jesus did not side with
the crowd ready to stone the woman caught in adultery, he didn’t present the
prodigal son’s self-righteous older brother as someone to emulate. Jesus’ greatest anger in the Gospel was
reserved for those who were convinced that God saw things exactly as they saw
When the laborers in today’s
gospel who had been hired first observed the others receiving a full day’s
wage, they quite naturally assumed they would receive even more. When they did not, they complained against
the owner. The landowner returned to the
language of justice; “My friend I do you no injustice.” The parable indicates that God’s justice is
not one of strict measure. It is a
gracious justice that offers a place to those considered unworthy of
Particularly telling is the
nature of the laborer’s complaint, “You have put them on the same basis as
us.” They are not complaining of the way
they themselves were treated. They are
complaining that they have not been given what they see as just in comparison
to others. Their sense of personal worth
is based upon seeing themselves in contrast to others. The last question posed to them underscores
this problem. It reads literally, “Is
your eye evil because I am good?” In
other words, is your vision clouded by your way of viewing your worth? They cannot rejoice in the owner’s
generosity, because in comparative thinking, it seems to rob them of
something. Jesus calls us to abandon any
idea that we are called and blessed because we are the better than others or
because we earned it.
Frankly, God’s sense of
generosity, love and forgiveness strikes us with an extravagance that offends
our own sense of fairness. But if we
trust in God’s goodness, we will come to the realization just how generous God
has been to us and it is up to us to share our treasures with those who have
not realized such blessing in their lives.
An Act of
My Jesus, I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You
I ask You to come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You, trusting that you are already
there and I unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
A few years ago, writer and poet Mark Nepo was being
treated for cancer. In an essay in “Spirituality & Health Magazine”
[May/June 2017], he recalls a transforming moment during that time:
“I was driving north of Monterey on California
Highway 1 … I was aching and vulnerable, feeling far from home, when, through
the harsh onshore wind, I saw a large rock surrounded by the rough, churned-up
sea. The rock was covered with all kinds of animals: willets, gulls,
cormorants, sea lions, seals, pelicans, otters. All had found refuge from the
hammering of the sea: climbing, winging, hauling themselves onto the rock;
leaning into each other, lying on each other; finding this rock-oasis of wind
and sun; too tired once on the rock to fight or be territorial; each having
been wrung out by the pounding of the wet hours.
“I realized this is how we make our way, how we
find each other. Every survivor, regardless of what they survive, knows the
hammering of the sea, and the rock we find refuge on is an exposed place where
we finally accept each other, too tired from swimming to think any longer about
territories, too tired to talk except through simple touch.
“The wellness group I attended weekly during my
cancer journey was such a rock. The meeting rooms of recovery are such a rock.
The thousand quiet rooms of therapy are such a rock. … For those of us who have been tossed out of
the storm, who have hauled themselves into the sun, exhausted beside us is
family. The hard gift of any storm is that when we’re too exhausted to uphold
our differences, there’s room enough for everyone. When I can accept what we
have in common over what sets us apart, somehow my deepest self is mysteriously
affirmed and I begin to heal. …
“We fear the worst we have to offer, when the
best is close at hand.”
The “rocks” of safety and healing we manage to scramble onto with the help of others contradict the limited perspective of “fairness” of the workers in today’s Gospel. Jesus calls us to embrace the vision of the generous vineyard owner: to be thankful for the ability to help others find safety during life’s storms; to rejoice in the good fortune of others without feeling used or cheated or demanding “Where’s mine?”; to be generous and compassionate in making room on our “rock” for those in need of protection. Such a vision frees us from what our yardsticks and actuary tables and market indices determine for us what is “fair,” enabling us to realize all that we have received and how much God has blessed us, and compelling us to experience the joy of sharing our treasure with those who have not realized such blessings in their lives.