September 20, 2020

The parable we just heard underlines both the blessings of the ‘first’ and ‘last’ and the generosity of the householder who provides in such a way as to make the ‘last’ ‘first’.  While Jesus notes that his purpose in life is to call the sinner to repentance, it is always valuable to go deeper to realize, as this parable suggests, the love of the ‘householder’ for the ‘last’.  It is this love which ultimately explains the call for repentance and all the miracles associated with Jesus’ work.  Without that love, there would be no call, no miracle, no Jesus, no call to ‘be the first’.

We are reminded of the depth of divine love in the words of Jesus; “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16] God’s love is for all, those who worked all day in the heat are the Jewish people. Those who arrived to work much later are the Christians, many of whom are Gentiles of pagan origins. So, this parable is addressed to both groups, reminding those Jews who may harbor resentment of the new comers devoid of all Jewish traditions and piety. Matthew throughout his gospel shows Jesus reaching out to his own people and being rejected. Later Jesus would reach out to the Gentiles, who received the good news. In this light the first shall be last, and the last shall be first”.

This parable challenges our modern notion of love, precisely because God’s love is really about mercy and justice. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah provides us with the right framework; “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy, to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” When we have the mind of Christ we come to a deeper understanding of his justice. Those who worked all day were not deprived of a just wage. They were shown justice. Those who worked only the last hour were also shown justice, divine justice which expresses itself in mercy and compassion. 

We must then always be grateful for mercy shown to us from our baptism until today. And we must realize that those who have come to the Catholic Faith later in life are also in need of divine mercy. We all need God’s love and mercy, and each one of us receive all of God’s love and mercy so that we are able to do the work of the Lord. Let us labor for the work of the Lord, in so doing we bring him praise, honor, and glory. And we labor for our neighbor for their welfare with the same spirit of loving-kindness and compassion which the Lord has shown to us. In all things may God be glorified.  



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Updated: September 20, 2020

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