Late Vocation, Full Response

August 23, 2017
Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Today
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. Keith R. Buenaventura)

I find the Gospel similar to my experience of a late vocation. Though late in terms of heeding the call, I am still asked to cooperate fully so as to attain my desired goal. The formation aims not so much in turning me, a seminarian, into a priest overnight, but to allow me to grow in my knowledge of myself and to encounter personally the God who constantly calls me in prayer. While it is a joy-filled experience, it is also about “crucifying” my own will and patiently surrendering it to God’s painful “cutting and pruning.” Ultimately, the seminary is not so much a place but a special time of grace, of preparing for a future mission whatever it may be.

How long can I work for the Lord? Constantly, He invites me to leave my comforts and to risk exploring my growth zones. When I leave my securities, I experience what it means to be with Him. These are opportunities for trust. For every experience, there is always something to learn. Sometimes it takes time and a lot of tears. But if I am open to God, my heart just stops resisting and I learn the lesson at the right time.

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly. My true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. There comes a point in my life where I am faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life. I usually choose the latter. I wonder if I am now ready to take up my cross. Am I willing to follow Jesus if it means losing my life? Commitment to Christ means taking up my cross daily, giving up on hopes, dreams, possessions, even my very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if I willingly take up my cross may I be called His disciple. The reward is worth the price.

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