First reading Isaiah 55:6-9
My thoughts are not your thoughts
Seek the Lord while he is still to be found,
call to him while he is still near.
Let the wicked man abandon his way,
the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him,
to our God who is rich in forgiving;
for my thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
Responsorial Psalm 144(145):2-3,8-9,17-18
The Lord is close to all who call him.
I will bless you day after day
and praise your name for ever.
The Lord is great, highly to be praised,
his greatness cannot be measured.
The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.
The Lord is just in all his ways
and loving in all his deeds.
He is close to all who call him,
who call on him from their hearts.
Second reading Philippians 1:20-24,27
Life to me is Christ; but death would bring me more
Christ will be glorified in my body, whether by my life or by my death. Life to me, of course, is Christ, but then death would bring me something more; but then again, if living in this body means doing work which is having good results – I do not know what I should choose. I am caught in this dilemma: I want to be gone and be with Christ, which would be very much the better, but for me to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need for your sake.
Avoid anything in your everyday lives that would be unworthy of the gospel of Christ.
Gospel Matthew 20:1-16
Why be envious because I am generous?
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’
Today’s Responsorial Psalm uses the traditional creedal formula to describe God as ‘gracious, merciful, patient and long-suffering, faithful, abounding in love and compassionate to all his creatures.’
With this in mind, all today’s readings encourage us to take stock of how we are responding to this amazing love. The Responsorial Psalm reminds us that God is near, but we must call to him and mean it. God is love, so he will not force himself upon us, but wait to be invited.
In the First Reading, Isaiah picks up this theme, encouraging us to seek our gracious God while he may be found, to call on God while he is near. We need God’s mercy and we are in great need of God’s forgiveness. God is near. Let us not take this closeness for granted but cry out to him, now.
While this life continues, God will continue to come to us and to invite us into the vineyard, whether it be early morning, noon, or just an hour away from nightfall. But, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, the time will come when it is too late.
Furthermore, why would we want to spend much of the day living a half-life or a double-life? Why not live to the full in communion with this loving and life-giving God? Why not follow Paul’s advice in the Second Reading and ‘live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ’?
We can call on God anywhere and at any time. When we are genuinely sorry for the wrong we have done and are genuinely resolved to listen to God’s Spirit and to respond to the grace God is offering us to alter our lives, God’s heart is ever ready to forgive.
As we read in the Catholic Catechism: ‘Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace’(n.1431).
Fr Michael Fallon