Today’s reading concludes with a wedding guest being thrown into what sounds like hell. We read, “Many are invited, but few are chosen (Matt 22:14).” As a young person, this made me feel like the path to the Kingdom of God was like a twisted joke. I could think and hope all along that I was doing the right things and following all the rules, and working really hard at it too, but then I’d find out I was wearing the wrong clothes at the gate in the final judgment, and there’s I’d be too, amongst the wailing and grinding of teeth in the darkness outside the pearly gates, not even really understanding what I’d done right or wrong.
Laborers in the field, 11th c., Byzantine
Today's gospel tells of the landowner who hired laborers for his vineyard. In the early morning, the landowner agrees to hire people to work all day for the daily wage. Throughout the day, he continues to hire more people, even in the final hours of the workday. When the sun has set and they all line up to be paid, the ones who have only toiled briefly in the fields are paid for a whole day' wage. The ones who have been there since early morning are paid the exact same amount. "Unfair!" the exhausted all-day workers grumble."We spent the whole day in the hot sun and you have given these latecomers the same money!"
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of heaven.” There has probably been more effort expended in various sermons to explain away this uncomfortable saying of Jesus than for all the rest of his sayings combined. Pastors do not want their wealthy parishioners to be too uncomfortable. They depend upon them, after all, to sustain the parish enterprise. This was just a figure of speech, wasn’t it? So it’s OK to be rich.
"The young man went away sad, for he had many possessions"
Do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshiping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshiping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshiping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.
Rev 11:19; 12:1-6, 10; 1 Cor 15:20-26; Lk 1:39-56
It’s August 15th and we once again celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. In acknowledging Mary this way we look back to Jesus’ victory celebration in the resurrection-ascension and we look forward to our own victory-in-Christ in bodily resurrection into heaven. Just as Jesus and Mary are taken, body and soul, into heaven so we are promised that, like them, we continue to live on eternally in the presence of God.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (1894-1941)
Raymond Kolbe was born on the 8th of January 1894 in Zdunska Wola, which at that time was occupied by Russia. The Kolbe home was poor but full of love. The parents, hardworking and religious, educated their three sons with rectitude.
The last lines of today’s gospel passage prompt me to offer some reflections that one does not often hear in church, yet need to be heard. I am referring to the Lord’s words: “...some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven”. Through baptism we are ALL called to image on earth God’s love. But God’s love is so rich in dimensions, that no one can image all those dimensions by oneself.
You could wonder a bit about what it means exactly to forgive seventy times seven. Perhaps the 491st time you can seek revenge or refuse mercy. That’s okay, I guess, if you are interested in loopholes and being meticulous as the basis of your contract with God.
In today’s Gospel, following from yesterday’s, how would you argue or find a convenient escape. You do not need much commentary on just what exactly Jesus was getting at and offering us in this parable. The amounts of money are exaggeratedly extreme. The first man owes the master over ten thousand dollars. The man who owes him is in debt to about fifteen dollars. That is rather ear-catching which is what this parable is about.
The second reading conveys Jesus’ perspective on how to handle conflict with others. He directs that we should confront the situation head on with the person involved. If that doesn’t work, bring some others along and try again. If that still doesn’t work bring in the authorities in the form of the Church. At that point you have done all you can and must let it go – “treat him as you would a tax collector.” Then the reading takes a turn . . . Jesus now talks about praying and the power of prayer especially as we gather together.
Today, as noted in the readings, honors Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr. The history of Saint Lawrence is inspiring and affirming in our beliefs as Christians and Catholics – a remarkable man with remarkable faith and courage. The readings fill us with direction and hope encouraging us to open our hearts both to others and the Lord.
“The Bridegroom is here! Go out to meet him.”
Dear brothers and sisters! Because she was Jewish, Edith Stein was taken with her sister Rosa and many other Catholic Jews from the Netherlands to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where she died with them in the gas chambers. Today we remember them all with deep respect. A few days before her deportation, the woman religious had dismissed the question about a possible rescue: “Do not do it! Why should I be spared? Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my Baptism? If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed”.
1 Kings 19:4-8; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51
The feeding narratives continue in the readings this week, but we notice a few twists occurring in the stories. Elijah is weary because he began a campaign into the desert and he gets tired on the first day. He falls asleep under a broom tree and asks the Lord to take his life rather than to suffer further. However, he was nudged from his sleep to find a hearth cake and a jug of water. He ate and slept some more, but an angel prodded him to rise, eat, and begin the journey. He walked fortified for forty days and nights to Mount Horeb.