God’s Invitation and Love for all
Readings: 1st: Is 55:6-9; Ps: 144:2-3.8-9.17; 2nd: Rom 1:20-24.27; Gos: Mt. 20:1-16
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this 25th Sunday of ordinary time, we reflect on the unimaginable ways and love of God. This love is incalculable by any human standard. Hence, the Church invites us to emulate this love. All the readings of today have one thing in common, God’s love for us.
In the first reading, Isaiah invites us to “Seek the Lord while he is to be found; call to him while he is near, and let the wicked man abandon his way…!” In this reading, we see a God who expresses his love for his people. We also, see a God who in spite of our infidelity, continues to search for us. A God, who cares and is ready to welcome us.
In the second reading, Paul expresses the love he has for God and for the Gospel. As Christians, often times, we are pulled in two directions. We all want to go to heaven, yet this life still appeals to us. Paul had the same mixed feelings too. Although he believed he would soon be released from prison, he knew that he could fall victim to Nero’s sword.
This created a conflict in him. He longed to be with Christ, for that would be much better. However, he also wanted to live, because of his love for his brothers and children in faith. Hence, Paul’s answer to life’s most profound dilemma is, “to live, is Christ, and to die, is gain.” Love for Christ, the good news, and for our brethren must motivate all our actions. It must be the source of our strength.
Through this, dying or living for God or for our brethren will no longer be a tragedy for us. Rather, it would be a witness to the gospel. It would become an expression of our love for others. Paul sums up his reflection with the following instruction: “Avoid any thing in your everyday lives that would be unworthy of the gospel of Christ.”
In the gospel, Christ presents to us with a dilemma. How could the employer pay everyone the same amount? It was difficult for the earlier (or first) group of workers to understand just as it would be for most of us today. The key to understanding the action of the owner of the vineyard in this parable, is in the first reading of today. God reminds us that: “My thoughts are not your thought, and my ways are not your ways.”
What we see in action in the gospel today, is simply the justice of God. His justice is governed by his generosity and unconditional love for all. His action towards the last group of workers shows that he is not acting in accordance with strict justice, or economics.
Rather, he is motivated by love and generosity towards all that responds to his invitation. To all of us, he has extended the same unmerited invitation. To all, he will pay the same wage because his love is unconditional. His reward does not depend on when he called anyone, but on his generous, and unimaginable love for all.
What counts in God’s vineyard is not years of service, but diligence of heart as a chosen one. All men, no matter when they come in, are equally precious to God. Therefore, God’s reward for all in His kingdom, is simply His grace that is extended to all those who responded faithfully to His divine invitation.
Finally, what matters is that the Lord is close to all who respond to his invitation. It does not matter how and when. His love is for all.
Peace be with you all!