Reflections on the Daily Readings

September 20 - 26, 2020
The Season of Ordinary Time - The Twenty-fifth Week
Readings: Sunday Cycle A; Weekday Cycle II.
Divine Office - Psalter Week I.

Sunday 20:          The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 144; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16
Our readings from the prophet Isaiah and from St Matthew’s Gospel speak to us of the generosity of God which is beyond our understanding. Isaiah reminds us to seek the Lord and not abandon his ways like the wicked do. He tells us that we need to be converted to the Lord, and that the Lord judges by ways which we don’t understand and which are different to the ways of this world.
The gospel passage sees Jesus teaching about the mercy of God through a parable in which all people are treated the same and according to God’s ways. The landowner appears not to have a permanent work crew and so hires workers as he needs them. It was the norm of the time for those seeking employment to gather at a certain place, such as a market, and wait for landowners to come and hire them. The landowner here seems to hire everyone even very late in the day. An agreement is made with each one regarding pay and this agreement is upheld by the landowner at the end of the day. However, the workers complain because, though they receive the amount they themselves had agreed, they did not agree with those working one hour getting the same as those who worked several hours. The vineyard was an old image for Israel and so the parable represents the Kingdom to which all are welcome. The length of time each one worked could be seen to represent our life of faith: some come to faith early on and live a life of faith for many years, while others undergo a conversion late in life. The parable tells us that all people are considered equal in God’s eyes and there is a welcome and a place for each person in heaven if they live according to the Gospel, regardless of how late that is. There is also something of a reminder in the seemingly greater pay for those who have begun work late in the day, that there is great rejoicing in heaven over the repentance of sinners than over those who have always been faithful. We should all rejoice that the Kingdom is open to everyone who has faith, regardless of how long they have been living truly Christian lives by our standards.
Our second reading now comes from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians and in today’s passage Paul tells the people that Jesus Christ will be glorified in him because of his faith, the Christian life he lives, and the work he does for the spread of the Gospel. Paul is quite candid about the fact that he wants to die and live with Jesus in heaven, but at the same time he knows that he has a task to complete for the Lord before he dies, and that task is the spread of the Gospel and the strengthening of the faith among the people. Even alive in this world, he knows that Jesus is with him. Jesus Christ can only be glorified in us if we live out the Gospel in the sight of others with Jesus as the guiding principle of our lives.

Monday 21:         Feast of St Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist*
Ephesians 4:1-7; Psalm 18; Matthew 9:9-13
Our first reading today from the letter to the Ephesians reminds us that, as Christians, we are to live selflessly and with patience. It reminds us that there must be unity among us for there is only one baptism and one God. The second part of the reading speaks of the different gifts which have been given to the baptised by God. Each of us has a role to play in the building up of the Kingdom and the spread of the Good News and each role is specific. First among those are the apostles who gave their lives for the building up of the Kingdom, with St Matthew being today’s example.
The gospel passage tells of the call of Matthew who was a tax collector and therefore an outcast in Jewish society, because he worked for the Roman occupiers. Matthew followed the Lord and later we read that the Lord had dinner with a number of tax collectors and those whom people regarded as sinners, which suggests that Matthew wasn’t the only one to believe in Jesus but that his encounter with Jesus was an occasion to allow his colleagues to meet the Lord. Jesus’ teaching reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways and that sinners too have a right to hear the Good News and so be converted by it. The Lord’s call to ‘Follow me’ doesn’t simply mean that we follow where he walks, but that we must follow by our lifestyle which must imitate his.

Tuesday 22:         Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13; Psalm 118; Luke 8:19-21
We have a number of little proverbs in today’s first reading from the Book of Proverbs which give pointers to the way we should think and act. The general theme is about the ways of evil men in comparison to those who are good-living. In the Gospel we see Jesus being looked for by his family. He tells us that those who do his will are members of his family. If we are Christians then we should take every care not to let our family down, and in particular our brother, Christ, by doing or saying anything that is against his will.

Wednesday 23:    Memorial of St Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest*
Proverbs 30:5-9; Psalm 118; Luke 9:1-6
In the first reading from the Book of Proverbs we see the author remind us about the trustworthiness of God’s promises. He then goes on to pray for sincerity and finally he asks to be protected against poverty but also against excessive wealth, for wealth can put a barrier between us and God. The Psalm is a prayer to God to be guarded from evil ways. In the Gospel we see Jesus sending out his Twelve Apostles to preach and to cure in his name. As Christians we too have an obligation to spread the Good News of the kingdom.

Thursday 24:       Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Psalm 89; Luke 9:7-9
Today we begin reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes written by an author named Qoheleth about the third century before Christ. He tells us that there is nothing new to be found in the world – everything there is has already existed but we do not have any memory of them. It is in the mind of God the Creator and the works of man are but mere vanity. In our Gospel text, the works and teachings of Christ have come to the attention of Herod. He is unsettled because some people thought that Jesus was the Baptist – whom Herod had beheaded – come back to life. Herod had listened to John with curiosity but had not done as John had instructed. Now he is getting a second chance to do the right thing. We too get second chances though we do not always acknowledge or grasp them. However, we do not know when our time on this earth will end and so we need to listen to the word of God today and act upon it.

Friday 25:            Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Psalm 143; Luke 9:18-22
In our first reading today from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth tells us that there is a time for everything. The reading reminds us that there is a rhythm in life and a cycle of change to all things. In our Gospel, St Peter makes his great profession of faith when Christ asks his followers who they think he is. He also tells them that he is to suffer and to die. Today we are asked to look into our hearts and, for ourselves, answer the question – “Who do you say I am?” We are also told that this event took place while Jesus and the Apostles were at prayer, again showing us how central prayer was in the life of Christ.

Saturday 26:        Of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 11:9-12, 8; Psalm 89; Luke 9:43-45
Today, Qoheleth – the author of the first reading – is reminding us of how foolish we can be, especially in our youth. It is in our young days that we should acknowledge the power of God and begin building up our faith so as to be able to bear the trials of the “evil days” which come later in life. In our Gospel text, Jesus again tells his disciples that he will be handed over to the power of men, though they do not understand what he is saying and were too afraid to ask. Yet he tells them to keep this always in mind and we are told elsewhere in the Gospels that all these things fell into place for them following the resurrection.

Memorials this Week:
September 21:    Feast of St Matthew the Apostle & Evangelist
Very little is known about Matthew other than what is recorded in the Gospels which tell us that he was a tax-collector who was called by Jesus himself. Matthew is the author of one of the Synoptic Gospels, which he wrote in Hebrew, as a Jew writing to his fellow Jews. He emphasises the Kingship of Jesus and the Christian belief that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah or Anointed One of the Jewish Faith. Where St Mark focused on the events of the life of Jesus, St Matthew focuses on the Lord’s teachings. Where Matthew preached is unknown and accounts of his martyrdom are unconfirmed.

September 23:    Memorial of St Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest
Francesco Forgione was born in Pietrelcina, in the mountainous region of southern Italy, in 1887. He joined the Capuchin Friars (OFM Cap) and was ordained priest in 1910. He suffered from ill-health and was thought to have tuberculosis at one stage. While praying before a cross he received the visible stigmata on September 20, 1918. His fame spread far and wide after the end of the Second World War and crowds flocked to hear and see him. Many miracles have been attributed to him and he was a gifted confessor. He founded a hospital in 1956. He died on September 23, 1968, and was canonized in 2002.

© P. Breen, O.Carm. 2011, 2013
The Reflections above are available in printed form in:
Reflections on the Readings for every day of the Church's year.
Patrick J. Breen, O.Carm. Dublin: Columba Press. 2011. ISBN 978 1 85607 732 3.

And direct from the publishers: Columba Press, Dublin.

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