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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

CALLED AT DIFFERENT TIMES (MATTHEW 20:1-16)

The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who hired workmen to cultivate his vineyard. Some were hired early in the day, others late in the afternoon. God is the householder; Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, and the prophets are some of those called early in the morning. The Christian saints at the end times are those called late in the afternoon.

The Gospel gives the impression that those called last received their reward first. It seems that way. But, look, if a laborer works for twelve hours and another for one hour, doesn't it seem that the latter received his reward earlier, since he received it only after one hour, while the other had to wait twelve hours? Christ rewarded Dimas even before Peter.

The workmen in the vineyard are those with right faith accompanied by good works, working in whatever capacity. And "Why do you stand here the whole day idle?" are the Christians at the end times since the day is almost over.

We must examine our conduct and see if we are still God's workmen. Are we still working in the vineyard of the Lord? No one who seeks his own will in this life has come to the Lord's vineyard. The Lord's laborers are those who think not of their own concerns but of the Lord's.

One who lives for himself, nourished  by the pleasures of  his body, is rightly reproved as idle. If we have not worked for God early or at the middle of our life, we must do so at least at our late age. . . if we reach it. The good thief came to the vineyard at the eleventh hour.

Those who came early, the heroes of the Old Testament, murmured. . .well, not really murmured, for those destined to heaven never murmur.  But murmur signifies the fact that, after their death, they had to wait either in paradise or purgatory for a long time before receiving their reward at the Second Coming of Christ. While we who live at the end times don't have to wait in paradise or purgatory, but will be seized to heaven as at a wink of an eye.

Then Christ warns of envy, "Am I not allowed to do what I wish? Or is your eye evil because I am good?" We can complain if God did not give us what He owes us; but not if He gives what he does not owe.

MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN.  Many are called to the faith but only a few are brought to the heavenly kingdom. All voices shout "Christ" but not everyone's life shouts it. Many follow Christ with their voices but flee from him by their conduct. "They profess that they know God but they deny Him by their deeds."

The sheepfold of our holy Church receives goats together with lambs. But at the end, he will separate the good from the evil. Those who are subject o the pleasures of their bodies here cannot be counted as sheep there. Those who share the heavenly faith in this life, but seek the earth with their whole desire, cannot obtain the kingdom of heaven.

The Church is full of such kind; but we do not know what they will be tomorrow. Paul was part in persecuting Stephen, but eventually surpassed Stephen in holiness.

Thereby, no one should be presumptuous about himself. You may be called but may be unworthy. And we should never despair of a sinner because we do not know the richness of God's mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

(11-21-02)

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                                                                                        - Teresa of Avila

 


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