(Sunday XXV OT — A) The First Will Be Last and the Last Will Be First

The parable of the owner of the vineyard is about the reversal of fortune effected by God’s mercy manifested in Christ. “First” and “last” are relativized before God’s justice, which is also His mercy. It is because of this relativization that the reversal of fortunes effected by the kingdom of God manifesting itself in the work of Christ can make the first, last and the last, first. Read the articles on the parable of the owner of the vineyard and use the questions below for your reflection

1. On the words, “Go to my vineyard too” John Paul II gives us this reminder

You go too. The call is a concern not only of Pastors, clergy, and men and women religious. The call is addressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world. In preaching to the people Saint Gregory the Great recalls this fact and comments on the parable of the labourers in the vineyard: “Keep watch over your manner of life, dear people, and make sure that you are indeed the Lord’s labourers. Each person should take into account what he does and consider if he is labouring in the vineyard of the Lord

Reflect: The Lord continues to call workers into His vineyard. Have you responded to His call? If not, what has prevented you from hearing His call?

2. The call to the Lord’s vineyard is actually an earnest plea from the bishops of the Church

The Council (Vatican II) makes an earnest plea in the Lord’s name that all lay people give a glad, generous, and prompt response to the impulse of the Holy Spirit and to the voice of Christ, who is giving them an especially urgent invitation at this moment. Young people should feel that this call is directed to them in particular, and they should respond to it eagerly and magnanimously. The Lord himself renews his invitation to all the lay faithful to come closer to him every day, and with the recognition that what is his is also their own (Phil 2:5) they ought to associate themselves with him in his saving mission. Once again he sends them into every town and place where he himself is to come (cf. Lk 10:1)

Reflect: To hear God’s call, one should (1) “come nearer to the Lord each day”, so as to (2) come to the recognition that what is His is also one’s own, and (3) to associate oneself with His mission. When you were baptized, you began to participate in the Lord’s three-fold office as priest, prophet and king. How have you been carrying out this three-fold office in the Church’s work of evangelization?

3. In the introduction to Christifideles laici, John Paul II gives voice to the concern raised among the Synod fathers regarding two temptations assailing the laity

(T)wo temptations can be cited which they have not always known how to avoid: (1) the temptation of being so strongly interested in Church services and tasks that some fail to become actively engaged in their responsibilities in the professional, social, cultural and political world; and (2) the temptation of legitimizing the unwarranted separation of faith from life, that is, a separation of the Gospel’s acceptance from the actual living of the Gospel in various situations in the world.

Reflect: Have you become so wrapped up in your novena, Church fund raising activities, or first Friday devotion that you now live unconcerned about the needs of your own local church or community? Have you even failed to live your professional life as that particular way by which the gifts you received in baptism emerge and bear fruit? Do you lead two lives, one on Sunday and the other on weekdays? Are you one of those who think that the profession religion has no place in the public life?

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