The comforting words of Isaiah offer an image of the end of time, when all nations will come to God’s holy mountain for a great feast of rich food and choice wines. This occasion will mark the celebration of God’s final conquest of death, when every tear will be wiped away and we will know God as our savior. How fitting that this reading is often used at funerals. Jesus also turns to the image of a feast, now a wedding feast, but his parable presents more challenge than comfort. Those invited have refused, even treating abusively those sent to gather the guests. The early church heard in this the story of Jesus’ own rejection and death at the hand of Israel’s leaders. What is here for us? First, we are reminded that we too have been invited to celebrate God’s “marriage” with humankind in the person of Jesus Christ, truly God and truly human. The puzzling incident of the man who shows up without a wedding garment signals that our lives are a preparation for this final celebration, and that we are to arrive there having put on Christ in Baptism and grown into that garment.
How does the garment of Christ fit today?READ MORE
The poet-prophet Isaiah uses the imagery of a vineyard and its owner to tell the sad story of the relationship between God and Israel, whom God has called into a covenant relationship. God's loving care for Israel is imaged in all the owner does to ensure that the vineyard bears fruit, but then only result is a crop of wild grapes. Isaiah hands down a verdict of divine judgment of Israel. Jesus also used the image of the vineyard, but is becomes a parable of judgment on the chief priests and elders who have refused to honor the prophets God has sent, including God's own Son, Jesus. Such failure in leadership will lead to God entrusting the vineyard (God's people) to more trustworthy caretakers. We too can hear in these readings a call to take to heart God's desire that the people bear fruit, thereby giving God glory. Such fruit Saint Paul identifies as bringing God's justice, peace, beauty, and grace into the world, especially through faithful service on the part of all in positions of leadership in the church society.
How do you answer this call to produce fruit?READ MORE
Notice that Jesus is addressing the religious leaders in today’s Gospel, those who made a display of their dedication to keeping God’s law. In response, Jesus presents a simple parable in which a father asks his two sons to work in his field. A spoken “No” from one becomes an enacted “Yes.” With the other, the opposite happens: “Yes” in word becomes “No” in deed. Jesus then asks, Which son did his father’s will? The answer condemns the leaders, because they have been rejecting Jesus’ outreach to sinners and thus hindering him from doing his Father’s will. Doing God’s will is what matters. Ezekiel is making the same point when he says that turning from wickedness brings life to a sinner. This conversion is doing God’s will. Saint Paul uses an early Christian hymn to call the Philippians to have the same mind that was in Christ, the obedient Son of God. Through his self-emptying, Jesus humbly served the Father’s will, becoming obedient even until death on a cross. As Saint Paul says elsewhere, Jesus was not “Yes and No” but in him it is always “Yes” (cf. Corinthians 1:19).
What is God asking of you? Are you always “Yes”?READ MORE
Today’s Good News: God is far more generous than we would ever expect. However, this may not always make you happy. When Isaiah calls to the scoundrel and the wicked to “turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving,” (55:7) you might react: “Well, okay, but there should be some punishment, an appropriate retribution for past sins. That’s only fair and just.” But Jesus takes God’s generosity even further in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. The owner pays the same amount to those who have slaved through the morning, under the hot noonday sun, and into early evening as to those who showed up at end of the day. Unfair? Remember, this is a kingdom of heaven parable, proclaiming God’s generous mercy for all. We ourselves are invited not only to know the generosity of God, but to show the generosity of God, just as Saint Paul is willing to do. He is willing to stay with the Philippians, even though he is yearning to be with Christ.
How is God asking you to express generosity in your life?READ MORE
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jim Wallis confronting racism, Dorothy Day and Pope Francis addressing our indifference to the poor. In the Gospel, Jesus addresses his disciples about their responsibility to correct each other. We find a process of brotherly and sisterly correction outlined here. One of the spiritual works of mercy, “admonishing the sinner,” flows from this text. What might sound like giving up in the face of another's refusal to reform by “treat[ing] [that person] as you would a Gentile or a tax collector,” is not abandonment (Matthew 18:17). Remember, Jesus himself ate with sinners and tax collectors. Saint Paul sums it up succinctly: “Love does no evil to the neighbor” (Romans 13:10).
Has God ever worked through you to help heal a broken relationship? How?READ MORE
Jeremiah is lamenting, complaining about God’s behavior, feeling upended: “You duped me...and I let myself be duped” (20:7). True, God had said the prophet was being sent to root up and tear down, but God had also said Jeremiah was to build and to plant. Only the first part seemed to be happening and the people hated Jeremiah and his message: “I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me” (20:7). Peter also might have felt upended. Having received the highest praise after acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, he was promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven. But then, when Jesus went on to talk about having to suffer and die, and Peter objected, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing,” Jesus called him “Satan,” an obstacle, and said, “Get behind me” (Matthew 16:22, 23). But this wasn’t a rejection of Peter. Peter was to follow Jesus, not lead. Peter was not yet in possession of the keys. He had to change his thinking. Saint Paul translates this event: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God” (Romans 12:12).
How’s your thinking these days? Does it need to change?READ MORE