Isa. 55: 6 – 9, Ps. 145: 2 – 3, 8 – 9, 17 – 18, R. 18a, Phil. 1: 20c – 24, 27a, Mt. 20: 1 – 16
The burdens of the day, and God’s generosity!
Today’s readings invite us to examine and ponder on the tensions that always exist within us as social beings, namely: a) What God desires and thinks about (Israel) us and all His creation: whether we or (Israel) are able to peer into God’s mind, or what we (or Israel) think about God and other people in the neighborhood b) What we live, and work for in life: a denarius or commitment for service? self-interest or God-given gifts or talents? temporal- personal happiness or lasting eternal happiness?
Friends, we all know that our spiritual communion, and faith journey do not deny the fruits of human labor and scorching heat! Neither do they limit human effort for better and quality life. What is in question is on what feeds and rules our human mind and heart. Is it material, or spiritual realities?
The first set of reflection is addressed in the first reading. Here, Prophet Isaiah points out how Israel’s desire to be like other nations, and how their unrighteous and wicked ways forsook God’s plan and covenants made with their ancestors. In this way, they responded to the burdens of their day and time! They lost the way. And since God’s greatness, kindness and compassion cannot be measured, His thoughts and deeds being just and different, prophet Isaiah appealed to them to cry and call on God in truth, that He may hear them, and bring mercy and abundant pardoning to them, for He is salvation, and their God forever.
The second set of questions and reflection is answered by the second and Gospel readings, respectively. In the first reading, St. Paul appeals to the Philippian community to live and die for Christ. He outlines the rewards and gains of such choice and commitment as a worthy cause for the Gospel of Christ. In it, all followers share in God’s generosity. They are made alive in flesh and spirit and disposed for fruitful human labor for the growth and transformation of the world.
In the Gospel reading, the evangelist Matthew presents the infiniteness and abundance of God’s generosity for everyone, young or senior in age, rich or poor, white, or black, etc. He highlights how God is present and ready to reach every person (us) at different locations and time: 3rd hour, 6th hour, 9th hour, and 11th hour because He is the owner of the vineyard, the authentic house holder. In this sense, working for money, reward, and just wage, though basic for livelihood and security, must never overshadow the spirit of Christian service, gifts’ sharing, and eternal happiness. Burdens of our day must therefore be driven by the principles of subsidiarity, stewardship, and collaboration. We are thus invited to take responsibility of our lives not to be absorbed with material realities that injure and wound our relationship with God and neighbor. We are also to recreate and regenerate a new commitment to the great commandment of love. Such commitment will make us grow as living signs of God’s generosity, love, and hope for humanity.
Let us pray for the spirit of discernment and purity of mind that God may reach, heal, and restore us with His generosity. Let us also pray for the spirit of conversion, stewardship, and Christian witness that the world may be renewed. AMEN.