August 20, 2014

The Gospel Today

Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Reflection (Sem. Jasper S. Bautista):

Jesus continued His preaching using parables. The gospel tells us that salvation is offered to all and impartiality has no place in God’s kingdom. This is manifested in Jesus’ Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) as fashioned on the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of

righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 During our first apostolate weekend, we were assigned in a slum area. The night before, I prayed that I would be given the least of the families, in terms of the social condition, to experience humility. My prayer was answered but at the back of my mind I was complaining to God why my companions were placed in better homes. Theirs were condominium type houses while my place was all dark, made of cardboard and wooden walls and in short, it was really unclean and not suitable for living. I began to accept my foster family and even if we have an extended family and was crowded, I still managed to play with the children, hear the elders’ stories and their angst. They were respected in their place and I was introduced and got acquainted with the entire block of neighborhood. My family was almost the whole village.

In a span of a day, God gave me a number of messages and lessons like not to judge people immediately. That I should be humble enough to accept things as they are. That my envy was a result of finding comfort. The important thing is that love rules in that house and grace was upon them. There is no poor or rich, ordinary or educated. All are loved by God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC No. 1722) states that, “Such beatitude surpasses the understanding and powers of man. It comes from an entirely free gift of God: whence it is called supernatural, as is the grace that disposes man to enter into the divine joy.” Love, grace and mercy are given to all. Let us thank God for loving us equally.

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