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Another look at today’s Gospel

Most of us heard today’s Gospel as a parable of God’s super-abundant mercy and generosity and rightly so for that is its primary intent.  As I listened to the proclamation of the Gospel at Mass today, another thought came to mind.  In the parable the landowner expends significant effort to find workers for his vineyard, going back again and again to the marketplace looking for people willing to put in an honest amount of work for honest pay – notice after the first group of workers he doesn’t even negotiate the price, he just promises to pay what is “just”.  Notice as well the workers-to-be do not attempt to negotiate either – you can almost imagine they are just happy at these late hours to find paying work.

I have been studying the Catena Aurea on this reading, hoping to share some nuggets of wisdom from the Church Fathers and one thing I noticed is they are nearly unanimous in interpreting the vineyard as the Catholic Church and the marketplace as anywhere outside the Church.  God, the good landowner, goes out continually looking for people willing to work in His vineyard, willing to toil for the good of souls and the glory of God.  I do wonder – does not God also ask us to be continually on the lookout for new workers for His vineyard, new souls in the marketplace of the world who would be willing to do honest work in the vineyard but are only waiting for an invitation?

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with someone who was looking to begin the experience that is RCIA.  She told us how over and over again in her life she met good Catholic people and hoped seemingly against hope that someone would invite her to look into becoming a Catholic, only to see that hope time and again go for naught.  How many times have we seen someone standing in the marketplace and walked by, unwilling to take the chance of offending them, to put ourselves “out there”, not knowing that on the inside that person was hoping, begging for someone to offer them a chance to work in the vineyard – to work an honest day for honest pay.  How many souls sit in the marketplace at nine, noon, three and five waiting for someone to invite them into the vineyard?  Look about you as you walk in the marketplace of the world – without even knowing it you are surrounded by souls waiting for your invitation.

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