Sep 23, 2023
(Is.55:6-9; Ps.145:2-3,8-9,17-18; Phil.1:20-24,27; Mt.20:1-16)
“You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.”
Our readings today reveal that the Lord is near, merciful, and just, and that these three qualities are one in God. For the Lord’s justice is shown in His mercy, and His mercy in His nearness to us. And so we should “praise [His] name forever.”
Isaiah conveys to us that the Lord’s thoughts and ways are “as high as the heavens are above the earth” with respect to our own thoughts and our own ways. As David proclaims, “His greatness is unsearchable.” But the prophet also encourages the faithful to “seek the Lord while He may be found, [to] call Him while He is near”; and the king declares, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” And is not the closeness of our great God – made most evident in the presence of Jesus among us – illustrated in the Lord’s parable? Does not the landowner go out at all times of day to draw laborers into his vineyard? Even to the final hour He invites us into His kingdom, coming to us always with the hope of making us fruitful workers upon His land.
And why does the Lord remain so near? Why does He call to us so incessantly? Is it not because He is so “generous and merciful,” because He is “good to all and compassionate toward all His works”? Is it not that we should turn from our idleness and the wickedness of our thoughts and ways that He ventures into the marketplace to find us? Does Jesus not come to redeem us from this world of sin? And should we not therefore “turn to the Lord for mercy, to our God who is generous in forgiving,” whose calling us to work in His vineyard is more that He should be able to give us all we need than that we might labor for Him?
And is His mercy not proven by His form of justice? For does He not give all a full day’s pay, even those with Him but an hour? Do not all who come to His kingdom know the blessings He pours forth? This is His way, this is His justice – the way of mercy and love. And it is by this love He remains so near us who may now proclaim with Paul: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death,” for His love is inseparable from us who believe, who have entered into His vineyard and share in His blood.
And should we not be merciful as He? Should His justice not become our own? We should not be as those servants who “grumbled against the landowner” for His generosity, courting envy in our hearts, but allow the Lord to be “free to do as [He] wish[es] with [His] own money.” Should we not wish the same joy upon all souls as we ourselves have been blessed to know? Though we may have had to bear “the day’s burden and the heat,” should this limit our generosity to others who have come late? We should rather with our Lord desire all to enter His vineyard, to be close to us, that all might receive the benefit of His merciful justice. We should thank Him that His ways are not our own, for then never would He have come near to us, and empty and idle we would be standing still.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Stumblebum" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, how our envy would kill us –
let us rejoice in your mercy toward all,
counting ourselves blessed to do your will.
YHWH, truly you are generous in forgiving, gracious and merciful to all, coming even at the eleventh hour to save us from our sin and share with us all the blessings of your kingdom. Let us set to work for you this day, this hour, rejoicing always that we might labor for you.
O LORD, we thank you that your ways are far above our ways, for where we would condemn, you would forgive, and so we would ourselves be condemned without your mercy. It is indeed your desire to save all souls and we need but turn our desire to you to find you present to us. Help us to leave the ways of this world behind and follow in the way of your Son, embracing the Cross as though it held all treasure for us, as if it is the greatest gift you give… as if it were the way to Heaven, which it is.
O LORD, why should we complain against your generosity, your mercy? Should we not rather seek to be like you? Then we would share in all the riches of your kingdom with nothing to keep us from praising your Name.