Laboring in God’s Vineyard

Posted on September 20, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Laboring in God’s VineyardFor Sunday, September 24, 2017
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:6-9
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20:1-16a

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard stuns the conscience.

We readily relate with the workers toiling all day in the hot sun. We feel their disappointment and anger when they are paid no more than those who labored only an hour. It brings to mind the times we have been shortchanged and denied our fair share. In a societal context, it reminds us of efforts to raise the minimum wage. That Jesus would compare God and his kingdom to such an arbitrary landowner challenges our sense of fairness.

What if we saw the parable in a different light? What if we put ourselves in the place of the workers who were in the field only part of the day?

All these men were day laborers gathering in the marketplace every morning in the hope that someone would hire them for the day. If they were called upon to work in the fields, they would be able to return to their families with some money. If, however, they were overlooked and not chosen, they would have to go home empty-handed.

When the landowner first arrives, all of them wanted to be the first picked to work in the vineyard. Imagine the disappointment of those not chosen as they watched the others jump on the back of the carriage to get carted off to their jobs. The fear that they would go another day without work would have been eating them up inside. They had no choice but to wait and hope that someone else would arrive with work for them.

Just when it looked as if the day would be a total waste, the landowner shows up again and hires the rest of the men to work the remaining hours of daylight. They feel relieved to at least bring some money home to their families. When the day ends, imagine their surprise and delight to receive a full day’s wage! The day is saved!

Though we may tend to identify with the first group of laborers, we are really more similar to those who are called last, especially when it comes to our relationship with God.

All that we have and are is a gift from God. None of us can claim that we deserve more from him than we have already received. It is up to him to decide for he is our Creator and Lord. Like the landowner in the Gospel, God will give to each one as he sees fit, according to his infinite mercy.

It is at the eucharistic banquet that we experience this truth of the kingdom. All of us who gather for Mass on any given Sunday are different. Some have great faith, and others are struggling with doubt. Some volunteer regularly, and others are just discovering how to use their talents in God’s service. Some have been attending Mass all their lives. Others are just returning after a long absence. No matter where we are on our journey, we will all get in line to receive the same “pay”—Jesus in the Eucharist. He comes to the sinner in the same humble form of bread and wine as he comes to the saint.

God is calling each of us to labor in his vineyard. Some of us will give more than others. Some will respond more generously than others. Nonetheless, all of us are called in the same way and by the same God. Let us pray that we will be generous when God calls upon us, no matter how early or late in the day it is. And let us pray that all of us will receive God’s abundant gifts with gratitude and awe.

Douglas Sousa, STL

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,
every good gift comes from your almighty hand.
All that we have and are is your gift.
When what we have does not seem to be enough
help us to trust in your providence.
Help us to be content with what you give us
so that we will give without counting the cost
and serve without expecting reward.
Just as you make your sun to shine down
on the good and the bad alike,
may we love everyone who crosses our path
so we can receive the blessings of your kingdom,
a world without end.
Amen.


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Who Owns Your Domain?

Posted on September 18, 2017 by - Catholic Tech Talk

church website

“A well-intended volunteer stepped forward to set up our church website. At first, they were totally responsive and information was updated the same day within hours. After a few months, the updates would happen less frequently. I would send them emails with what to place on the site and it would be posted within weeks. Then emails and calls to the volunteer would not lead to any updates at all. Our church website is now static and is still advertising last summer’s festival. It’s been a year and we have no way to update it.”  

Or worse yet, you want to visit the homepage and it’s not the church website anymore.

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The Power of Reconciliation

Posted on September 17, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

reconciliationAn Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Life was not always easy with my father when I was growing up. Let’s just say he made many decisions along the way that led to fear, anger, and sadness for my family and me. Unfortunately, I was the only one in the family that would years later truly forgive him for his actions. My mother and sister held onto the resentment and anger they felt all their lives. For my father and me, reconciliation led to several years of a deepening relationship before his passing in 2011.

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Why Charism Awareness Matters

Posted on September 16, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

charism

In our parish communities, we ask people to give of themselves more and more. We use St. Paul’s image of the Body of Christ to illustrate how we all play a part in God’s Kingdom, each with a unique charim. We express that the need is great and that the only way for us to succeed is to pull together. Then, we express our frustrations behind the scenes because most people still don’t step forward. One reason why is that many seated in our pews do not have an answer to the question, “What do I have to give?”

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Stewards of Our Sufferings

Posted on September 14, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

suffering

“So great and outstanding a possession is the cross that he who wins it has won a treasure.” – St. Andrew of Crete

This is complicated, isn’t it? Today crosses come in all shapes, sizes, and functions. You can find them encrusted with diamonds around the necks of celebrities. You can find them in stylized wall hangings, set in craft stores alongside distressed wood signs advising us to “Live – Laugh – Love.” St. Andrew of Crete lived in the seventh century. For St. Andrew, the cross would have retained its original, terrible value as a method of execution. Here we come to the great paradox of Christianity: a method of death as a means to life, a “treasure,” and cause of triumph.

Today’s feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, reminds us that we’re not only stewards of our gifts. We’re also stewards of our sufferings.

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Hope and Healing in the Aftermath

Posted on September 13, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Hope and Healing in the AftermathFor Sunday, September 17, 2017
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30—28:7
Romans 14:7-9
Matthew 18:21-35

These past few weeks, the United States has been battered by events of cataclysmic proportions. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the Equifax data breach have shoved tit-for-tat political headlines out of the limelight. Compelling, community-driven stories abound, whether it’s the quirky tenacity of Key West residents, a moving letter from the mayor of New Orleans, or Beyoncé volunteering in her hometown.

For those of us without connections to the South, the events could seem distant, and beyond the sphere of immediate concern, a matter of sympathetic thoughts, $20 donations, and passing prayers. For residents, however, the aftermath can stretch far into the future.

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What We Really Owe

Posted on September 10, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

debt

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

I have to smile when I read in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another.” I smile because I know that in today’s world few people owe nothing to anyone. We have credit card debt, mortgages, student loans, car loans, and new loans to consolidate old loans. It would seem that we actually owe everything to everyone.

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Growing in Generous Hospitality

Posted on September 9, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

generousThis time of the year the words “generous, extravagant, and abundant and beautiful” seem to be floating in the air. The farmer’s market this past weekend reminded me of that, with so many tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and green beans. The riot of colors and the anticipation of that ripe tomato sliced with a bit of salt was mouth-watering! Then the flowers! Dahlias, mums, purple status, cone flowers, zinnias, all tucked into big bunches waiting for a home to adorn. It made me happy to just walk amid the booths and seeing people choosing and chatting and taking time to pick just the right things.

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Our One Thing

Posted on September 7, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

one thing

Guest Post by Chuck Frost

“Purity of heart is what enables us to see.” ― Pope Benedict XVI

I’ve always been fond of a scene in the movie City Slickers, a story of three friends who go on a cattle drive adventure to New Mexico to help sort out their mid-life problems. Billy Crystal plays one of those friends, Mitch, and Jack Palance plays the trail boss, Curly. A turning point for Mitch comes in a scene where he and Curly are riding horseback together.

Curly says to Mitch: “You all come up here about the same age, same problems. You spend about fifty weeks a year getting knots in your rope and then you think two weeks up here will untie them for you. But none of you get it.” He continues: “You know what the secret of life is? Mitch replies, “No, what?” Curly then slowly holds up one finger and says, “One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean [nothing].” Mitch then asks, “What’s the one thing?” And Curly answers, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

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