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Reflections on Laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord

On this Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 2023, we are to reflect on what it means to be counted as the laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord. We are all workers in the Vineyard which we call the earth. The word of God tells us that “The Vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, …” (Is 5:7). So, we are the laborers or workers in the Vineyard which is like the kingdom of heaven.

In our First Reading, Isaiah 55:6-9, the prophet advised us to “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near.” (Is 55:6). Whether this means to pray or repent is while you are still alive. Beyond the grave, we do not know what obtains, what happens over there. What follows indicates that it is calling us to repentance, asking us to “turn to the Lord for mercy.” (ibid. 7). God generously forgives us now. St. Paul said: “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2). This call is totally urgent. While we live, we are responsible for the prayers we say, for the lives we live, for the forgiveness we receive. When we die, others will try to pray for us the little they can. Therefore, if you want more prayers, do it for yourself now. Ask yourself how much attention you pay to prayer. By implication, what are your prayer patterns? Many of us love doing just practical things, what they would be seen doing. Learn also to do that which is invisible. “Be merciful to me a sinner” – just striking your breast! In prayer, you call on God in the recesses of your heart. There “deep calls to deep.” (Ps. 42:8). Seek! See Mt 7:7-8.

Interestingly, the Second Reading says: “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21). Looking at the Christian life, what ways worthy of the gospel do you live your life? This is about your personal life. Is it a life lived for Christ’s ideals? I may have to ask us this question: what gives you the greatest satisfaction and joy in life? And why? I asked myself this question when I was decerning my priestly vocation. I found the answer in concerns about the Church. Life in Christ!

Once again, we are laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord. I have this as theme for the Gospel, (cf. Mt 20:1-16a). How we are hired is how we will be paid. Some will be happy with their pay while some will be envious for God’s generosity. The envious or jealous ones will do all they can to block others’ pay or others’ joy. The Lord Jesus gives us a parable about the vineyard to grapple with, on how the workers were paid for their labors, on terms of agreement, on the reactions and resentments, on forgiveness of coworkers, on God’s generosity, and on being thankful for what we receive from God. Does any of us deserve God’s mercy and generosity after our sinful lives? Do we not, rather, receive mercy from God gratuitously? It is, rather, important to realize that another person’s reward or gift from God takes nothing away from our own. In a sentence, let us imitate God’s generosity in the way we regard and forgive those who we feel do not really deserve His generosity. Again, leave it for God to handle. Do not be envious because God is generous with his gifts, or because someone else received some favor or mercy.