Sunday Reflection, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 21, 2014): God’s Generosity Trumps Human “Fairness”

 

“Are you envious because I am generous?’ — Matthew 20:15”

This weekend is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here.

The Gospel is the parable of the landowner who hires workers at different times throughout the day.  The workers hired just one hour before quitting time received a full days’ wages.  The workers who worked a full day, expected to receive more than the latter workers but the landowner paid them the agreed upon days’ wage. These workers complained but the landowner was unsympathetic.

I admit, I find the Gospel extremely challenging as it is contrary to my very human notion of “fairness”. However, one of the advantages of being of a parent is that you see the world from a different perspective. I have two wonderful boys but they have a strong sense of human “fairness” but often lack gratitude for gifts. In a recent example, they were given a cookie for good behavior but one immediately complained because his brother received what he thought was  bigger cookie. It was one of those moments that gave me a glimpse on how God must view my own ingratitude for the gifts he has given me. Unfortunately, for me children, God is much more generous than me:-)

This week’s reflection is from the Jamberoo Abbey, a Benedictine abbey in Australia.  They have a wonderful Lectio Divina on the readings, including a Teilhard de Chardin reference :-).  The entire reflection can be found here, but set forth below is an excerpt:

Lectio: Read the second text from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, chapter 1, verses 20-24 and verse 27.

Meditatio: Some background to the text so that we understand it better and can then make our response.

There are two sections to this text.
There is Paul’s dilemma: he wants to be gone from this life and to be with Christ, but he knows that to stay alive is more urgent a need for the sake of the Gospel
Then there is an exhortation for every Christian: Avoid anything in your everyday lies that would be unworthy of the Gospel of Christ.
This is an amazingly powerful exhortation. One can imagine how the world would change if every Christian took this seriously. At the moment Pope Francis is certainly taking it seriously.

Other than these two sections the reading does not present any need for more analysis.

Read the text again and allow the Holy Spirit to work on your heart. What words, what phrases, what sentences are to change your life?

[Reflection:

  • Teilhard de Chardin once wrote: “We are called to be pioneers, pioneers who stand on the edge of great beginnings, of unseen futures.” This, I believe, is what Paul is saying: “Avoid anything in your everyday lives which would be unworthy of the gospel of Christ.” To be a Pioneer, standing on the edge of a great beginning, is to live every day in a way which is worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. . . .  “What are you willing to see with new eyes, to hear with new ears, to explore with a new heart?” We see with new eyes, hear with new ears, explore with new hearts when we live our lives worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.]

Lectio: Read the Gospel text from Matthew 20:1-16.

Read it slowly and reflectively, and maybe a second time. Try to read aloud rather than with the mind. Listen to the text as you read.

Meditatio: What is it about?
This is the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard. It is a story about God’s generosity. The word “vineyard” is a symbol for Israel. A denarius was a normal day’s wage. The rest of the parable is a simple story and easily understood. The reversal of fortunes in verse 15, is attributed to the generosity and goodness of God, his love for the most needy, not to any class vindictiveness. (cf. NJBC 42:120). Fr. Karl Rahner sheds some further light on the text: “This story does not deal with the question whether any individual is rewarded by God’s judgment according to one’s works or not. In this parable Jesus is saying something else, something far wider, something especially significant in view of the way in which the Jews of that time were preoccupied with rewards: he is saying to us that between God and us there prevails something quite different, something that cannot be calculated, that cannot be expressed in terms of justice, something that is in fact the mercy and free disposition of the eternal God. This is the truth that comforts us, and raises us up and frees us from a burden.” (The Great Church Year, page 291).

Read the Gospel text a number of times during the week. Sit with the text for many “quiet” times.
Listen to the Holy Spirit playing like a harpist on the fibres of your heart, to bring forth the melody of your response.

Read Full Reflection

Other Reflections:

Living Space
Creighton Online Ministries

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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6 Responses to Sunday Reflection, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 21, 2014): God’s Generosity Trumps Human “Fairness”

  1. Always loving the sheep William–and I’m certainly with you on the challenges of today’s reading of Matthew—that whole fairness thing seems so entrenched in most of us–as we all seem to want recognition for what we’ve done, when it was done and how it was done because chances are we think we’ve done it a heck of a lot better than the next guy…sigh…poor God, I do so try His patience on such a daily basis. Thank you for this reflection and for your keen observation of life with a cookie—sadly that’s us, me , we in a nutshell 🙂 Here’s to gratitude!! no matter size, portion, time or amount!
    Have a blessed weekend—Julie

  2. neodecaussade says:

    Dear Teilhard de Chardin,
    Wonderful resources. I enjoyed the post. Keep up the good work. God bless,

  3. Mike says:

    Great! Especially, “Read the Gospel text a number of times during the week. Sit with the text for many “quiet” times. Listen to the Holy Spirit playing like a harpist on the fibres of your heart, to bring forth the melody of your response.”
    Thanks!
    Mike

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