Engaging the Word: 09/21/2014
In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard that we hear this Sunday Jesus is not offering advice on labor relations. Jesus’ intention quite clear; he is attempting to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, highlighting how different are God’s ways from our ways, how different the Kingdom is from the world of labor and commerce. Jesus is not knocking fair labor practices. That simply is not the point.
In the reading from Isaiah that has been paired this week with the parable we are counseled to “seek the Lord while he may be found,” to “call him while he is near.” Well, when is that? When may the Lord be found? When is the Lord near? The Gospel passage today shares the good news that God is already looking for us, seeking us where we may be found, early in the day and in our final earthly moments. God is always near, always coming to meet us right where we are. So, our seeking is really about receiving the grace to hear God’s call to us in every moment.
The reward we receive when we hear God’s call and respond is the fullness of life in the Kingdom. That reward is not gained by how much we do or for how long we work but by the graced reception of God’s love. We do, however, need to do something. We need to follow when God calls us. We need to choose to step into the Kingdom, and we can make that choice in any moment. When we step into the Kingdom, we find ourselves empowered for all the good and fruitful work that we do.
The challenge in this earthly life, of course, is that even if we step into the Kingdom in one moment, there is no guarantee that we will not step out of it in the next. In time, in this life, we need to strive to respond in every moment to our God who is so near and always seeking us. Has our last move put us into the Kingdom where in God’s sight everyone is first? Let us pray for the grace to hear God’s call, step into the Kingdom of Heaven, and remain in God’s everlasting embrace of love.
1st Reading: Isaiah 55:6-9 ~ Responsorial: Psalm: 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
2nd Reading: Philippians 1:20-24, 27 ~ Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16
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