How have I lived out last week’s Gospel message? … What was tough? … What was rewarding?
Generous God, your love embraces and welcomes all people.
In our lives and in our worship: help us to share your hospitality.
Generous God, your salvation is a gift, not a reward for labour.
In our lives and in our worship: help us to show your generosity.
Generous God, your Son taught that your kingdom is open to all.
In our lives and in our worship: help us to teach your message.
Generous God, your Spirit is at work in the world today.
In our lives and in our worship: help us to live as your disciples.
“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’ Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first”.
When do you compare yourselves to others? Are you overly concerned with someone else’s grades or how much playing time a teammate gets in a game? A classmate appears to be a teacher’s pet. A sibling seems to be more favoured at home than you are. A friend gets the kind of cool stuff from his parents that you wish for and don’t receive. How many times do you get the impression that someone else is getting special treatment? You think, “That’s just not fair!” Though it is humanly difficult, with prayer and strength from the Holy Spirit, it is possible to focus on the goodness of the action, not on how unfair it looks. Pray for the ability to see God’s wisdom in all things.
God is generous in God’s love and care for all people. It knows no bounds. You might have heard that the Church teaches that there is a preferential option for the poor. This does not mean that God loves people who live in homes, with food in fridges any less. Rather, it means that we should adopt an attitude of compassion and support for those who have no one else to care for them – those on the outskirts of society, those who are persecuted by others no matter their background, those who have nothing. They deserve to be treated like human beings, worthy because they are also made in the image and likeness of God. We are also called each day to have a gracious and humble attitude. We give thanks for what we have been given, rather than grumbling like the first workers in this week’s Gospel. We should see the world through God’s eyes, rather than our own.
Reread the Gospel story for this week and pretend you are one of the vineyard workers. Let yourself feel the anger the worker speaks of at having to work the whole day and getting paid the same amount as someone who didn’t work a full day. Now, reread it again, and this time be the worker who gets hired late in the afternoon. How do you feel about getting a full day’s wage? Reread the Gospel a final time. This time place yourself as the owner. What do you notice when you speak to your workers at the end of the day?
Never Too Late
A few years ago, I met a former gang leader who had become a devoted Catholic trying to keep kids out of gangs.
Wow, he came late to the vineyard. But thank God he came.
God’s arms never close. At each moment God reaches out to those who’ve turned away. And as Jesus says this week, God loves people who come late to the vineyard just as much as those who come early.
And those who come late can do awesome things. Gang members listened more closely to the former gang leader, because he knew firsthand their struggles. God didn’t approve of his former lifestyle but could still use it to spread the Gospel!
The lesson for us? A lot of young people think they’ve done too much wrong to come home to God. It’s just not true. If that’s you, know how much God loves you and yearns to draw you close. Also know how much God can use even your mistakes to help other young people who’ve made bad decisions.
Here’s another lesson. Like God, we can’t give up on people. We need to be God’s representatives – always inviting the people others think are too far gone to change their ways. It is never too late for anyone to come to the vineyard of the Lord.
If a word or phrase from the Gospel grabs your heart, sit quietly for a moment, repeating it to yourself and asking God to show you how it applies to your life. Reflect and possibly journal on the following question:
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE (O’Brien & Ogilvie) (from AOV: Next Generation collection)
© 2007, Monica O’Brien & Gina Ogilvie.
Published by Willow Publishing Pty Ltd. PO Box 1061 Dee Why NSW 2099
All rights reserved. Used with permission.