25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

OPTION 1: According to a story I read that one day a great crowd gathered outside the gates of heaven. There was a great anticipation and restlessness as to what would happen next. St. Peter was seen whispering something to Jesus. After some tensed moments, St. Peter came out with an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a predicament here. If we go by the record, none of you will qualify for heaven. But God is good and generous. On behalf of the Blessed Trinity, I hereby declare general amnesty! Open the gates and let the heavenly feast begin. There was tremendous applause and rejoicing as the gates of heaven were partly opened. Then St. Peter took the microphone again. Everyone was quiet. “There will be final test though, but the general amnesty still stands!” With that, the gates were thrown wide open and everybody started coming in.

There was a group that refused to come in. the group’s members went to St. Peter with a complaint: “We sacrificed much and worked hard on earth. We follow your Ten Commandments. We pray regularly. We go to Mass everyday. Some of us were catechists, lay cooperators,, Eucharistic ministers and church workers. How come we get the same reward as the others who lived dirty and useless lives? That’s unfair!” And they refused to enter heaven. In fact they organized a protest rally and pitched their tents outside the gates of heaven. “Well, that was the final test,’ St. Peter said. They were forever barred from heaven, why? It is because they were still selfish, arrogant and proud. They were thinking of their merits instead of rejoicing in God’s generosity. Such will be the case of people who are selfish, envious and self-righteous.

In today’s gospel the workers who were hired in the morning complained and protested that they were paid the same wage as those hired in the afternoon. “A gross injustice and it is unfair!” they complained. But is there an injustice happened? Legally, there is none because the agreement was covered by a personal contract. There was mutual agreement between the workers and the employer on the wage. He agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day and he fulfilled it. We should keep in mind if we reflect today’s gospel. The gospel passage is not about justice and social injustice. If we do, it doesn’t work especially in business, otherwise, the owner courts strikes, labor unrests among his regular employees. The gospel passage is about God’s generosity. It is because if we talk about justice and demand for it later of what we do here on earth, all of us will end up outside God’s kingdom. It is because the bad things we have done cannot compensate the good things we do.

What the Lord meant by His words is that all men hired at five o’clock in the afternoon received cash from the landowner not as a payment for the work they had done but that the landowner wanted to give them and so also with God. We will inherit eternal life not because it is God’s reward to us for not violating the Ten Commandments, for praying regularly, for going to Mass everyday, for helping the poor and the needy. Eternal life is not a reward but because God is so generous, it is God’s gift to us.

So what should be our response as sinful children of God? We should be grateful to Him. We should show our gratitude by doing the things that are God’s. But are we really grateful to Him or ungrateful? We seldom thank God, why? And so let us reflect this reflection too entitled, Funny, Isn’t It, that I got when I surfed the Internet by an unknown author. Its Tagalog version (‘Nakakatuwang Isipin’) was published in the Nexus, the official publication of the graduate school of Notre Dame of Dadiangas College (NDDC), General Santos City.  It runs this way:

Funny how a P500 looks so big when you take it to church, but so small when you take it to the mall.

Funny how long it takes to serve God for an hour, but how quickly a team plays 60 minutes of basketball.

Funny how long a couple of hours spent at church are, but how short they are when watching a movie.

Funny how we can’t think of anything to say when we pray, but don’t have difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we get thrilled when a baseball game goes into extra innings, but we complain when a sermon is longer than the regular time.

Funny how hard it is to read a chapter in the Bible, but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a best-selling novel.

Funny how people want to get a front seat at any game or concert, but scramble to get a backseat at church services.

Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks advance notice to fit a church event into our schedule, but can adjust our schedule for a last minute party.

Funny how hard it is for people to learn a simple gospel well enough to tell others, but how simple it is for the same people to understand and repeat gossip.

Funny how we believe what the newspaper says, but question what the Bible says.

Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, or think, or say, or do anything.

Funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, But when you start sending message how many on your list are not receiving it Because you are not sure they believe in anything.

FUNNY, ISN’T IT? Spread the WORD and give thanks to the LORD for HE is GOOD!

You only have ONE life, LIVE IT TO THE FULLEST!!!

Well, anyway this is just a reminder of our ingratitude to God. Actually its main focus is not on the laborers which ourselves have done but on the landowner who is God. That our God is just to those he hired first, those old-timers and ahead of service because he gave to them what is due for them. But He is generous beyond all expectations to those who came late. That His Kingdom is open, not only to those who seem most undeserving, but also to as many who to us seem utterly undeserving.

Let us bear this in mind that for God all services of love whether they are big or small are important and accounted for in His eyes.

And because God is so generous so we have to be very grateful to Him. God is so kind and so we have to be thankful to Him. If God is only just, then all of us will end up outside God’s kingdom.

*********************************************************************************************************

OR. According to a story I read that one day a great crowd gathered outside the gates of heaven. There was a great anticipation and restlessness as to what would happen next. St. Peter was seen whispering something to Jesus. After some tensed moments, St. Peter came out with an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a predicament here. If we go by the record, none of you will qualify for heaven. But God is good and generous. On behalf of the Blessed Trinity, I hereby declare general amnesty! Open the gates and let the heavenly feast begin. There was tremendous applause and rejoicing as the gates of heaven were partly opened. Then St. Peter took the microphone again. Everyone was quiet. “There will be final test though, but the general amnesty still stands!” With that, the gates were thrown wide open and everybody started coming in.

There was a group that refused to come in. the group’s members went to St. Peter with a complaint: “We sacrificed much and worked hard on earth. We follow your Ten Commandments. We pray regularly. We go to Mass everyday. Some of us were catechists, lay cooperators,, Eucharistic ministers and church workers. How come we get the same reward as the others who lived dirty and useless lives? That’s unfair!” And they refused to enter heaven. In fact they organized a protest rally and pitched their tents outside the gates of heaven. “Well, that was the final test,’ St. Peter said. They were forever barred from heaven, why? It is because they were still selfish, arrogant and proud. They were thinking of their merits instead of rejoicing in God’s generosity. Such will be the case of people who are selfish, envious and self-righteous.

In today’s gospel, we hear of workers put in more work than others. When pay time comes, they are all treated equally and the early birds among them begin to complain and grumble; nagagalit, says, ‘God is unjust!’ nagtatampo, sumisigaw (‘Ano ba ang ipinagsigaw natin – problema, pamilya?’), sensitive, and etc. “A gross injustice and it is unfair!” they complained. We are very so very focused on our small self, we forget the big picture (‘Get your ccellphone and focus on your small screen if you text, wala paki sa paligid). But is there an injustice happened? Legally, there is none because the agreement was covered by a personal contract. There was mutual agreement between the workers and the employer on the wage. He agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day and the owner fulfilled it.

Actually, today’s gospel talks about the generosity of God, mercy and compassion. It is because those men hired at five o’clock in the afternoon received cash from the landowner not as a payment for the work they had done but that the landowner wanted to give them and so also with God. We will inherit eternal life not because it is God’s reward to us for not violating the Ten Commandments, for praying regularly, for going to Mass everyday, for helping the poor and the needy. Eternal life is not a reward but because God is so generous; God is so good to us and it is God’s gift to us.

It also talks about our own tendency of envy and to compare ourselves with others. We are trapped and eaten up by this tendency and its first cousin, jealousy. This tendency suffocates us, leaves us exhausted, miserable and unhappy. We are choked by this tendency. If we experience this in our lives, let us ask the Lord and beg Him to extricate us from this tendency and set us free. In order to help ourselves free from this tendency, let us focus on what we already have and not on ‘could-have-beens’ and ‘should-have-beens.’ Let us focus on our gifts and blessings and we can find more reasons to give thanks than to complain.

So what should be our response as sinful children of God? We should be grateful to Him. We should show our gratitude by doing the things that are God’s. But are we really grateful to Him or ungrateful? We seldom thank God, why? And so let us reflect this reflection too entitled, Nakakatuwang Isipin, which was published in the Nexus, the official publication of the graduate school of Notre Dame of Dadiangas College (NDDC), General Santos City.  It runs this way:

NAKAKATUWANG ISIPIN

…na ang isang Peso sa Simbahan ay napakalaki ngunit napakaliit kung sa Mall

…na ang isang oras na Misa ay napakatagal samantalang kulang ito kung manood ng tv, maglaro, magtelebabad o matulog

…na ang overtime sa basketball ay nagiging super-exciting pero nagpoproblema naman tayo sa isang sermon na lumampas sa isang regular time

…na ang pagbabasa ng Biblia ay isang napakapagod na gawain samatalang wala naman tayong reklamo sa isang 200-300 pages na best-selling novel

…na kaagad tayong naniniwala sa ibinabalita sa newspaper ngunit kinukwestyon naman natin ang nasa Biblia

…na kadalasan ay gusto nating nasa unahan kung uupo sa isang concert pero sa hulihan naman kung uupo sa simbahan

…na hindi natin basta ma-insert sa ating schedule and isang regular prayer meeting samantalang dali-daling maisulat and schedule ng isang outing

…na kahit minsan hindi tayo nahuli sa trabaho pero palagi namang huli sa Misa

…na inaantabayanan natin ang isang dinner date ngunit kahit paggising ng maaga upang magsimba ay hindi magawa

…na kinikilala natin si Kristo bilang Dios ngunit mahirap namang ipakilala siya sa ating pamilya

…na ang bilis nating makaisip ng pag-uusapan sa isang kaibigan pero wala naman tayong masabi sa isang dasal

…na ang bilis nating maniniwala at tutungo sa direksyon na sinabi ng isang hindi kakilala samantalang ayaw naman natin sa direksyon ni Kristo

…na ang galing natin kung magreklamo pero hindi naman  tayo marunong magpasalamat

…na gusto nating makinig si Kristo sa atin ngunit hindi naman tayo nakikinig sa kanya

… na kung may pagkakamali, sasabihin natin, “Lord, bakit ako pa?”, pero kung may tamang nagawa, sasabihin naman natin, “Wow! And galing ko!”

Pero teka, talaga bang nakakatuwang isipin ang lahat na ito?

Well, anyway this is just a reminder of our ingratitude to God. Actually its main focus is not on the laborers which ourselves have done but on the landowner who is God. That our God is just to those he hired first, those old-timers and ahead of service because he gave to them what is due for them. But He is generous beyond all expectations to those who came late. That His Kingdom is open, not only to those who seem most undeserving, but also to as many who to us seem utterly undeserving.

Let us bear this in mind that for God all services of love whether they are big or small are important and accounted for in His eyes.

And because God is so generous so we have to be very grateful to Him. God is so kind and so we have to be thankful to Him. If God is only just, then all of us will end up outside God’s kingdom.

*********************************************************************************************************

OR for Introduction: A text message from Joy Pajares (Sept. 15, 2008), “What is a trashcan? To a toddler, it’s just a shelf of his ugly toys; to a pupil, it’s where she keeps bad test papers; to a teenager, it is a basket case for the letters of an ex-lover; to a writer, it’s a file of rejected drafts; but to a street child, with a trashcan, life goes on….May this reminds us to be grateful of what we have in life.”

See Today’s Readings: Cycle A

Back to: Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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