September 17, 2021
Today we celebrate the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah suggests that even after their exile in Babylon had ended, Israel still struggled to be faithful to God. While there are no limits to His mercy, that forgiveness must be sought with repentance. God does respond to evil and His children must not delay in repenting. Thus, we hear, “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” In writing to the Philippians from prison, stating that his suffering and imprisonment have “turned out rather to advance the Gospel.” His hope is that no matter what happens, Christ will continue to be glorified in him. Paul has learned to be content with whatever God has in store for him. His exhortation we hear to “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel” is good advice today. In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses His familiar teaching method by telling a parable. Remember, a parable is always meant to make us think and often has a twist in it. Notice that those who didn’t work until day’s end had not deliberately avoided working; no one hired them. In Jesus’ day workers would go the marketplace to be hired for the day. They lead a precarious existence, not knowing from day to day if they would earn enough to feed their family. The owner of vineyard, in paying the workers a daily wage, is paying them not according to how much they have worked, but according to what they need. This parable emphasizes the generosity of God’s Kingdom, in which everyone’s needs are met. God cares more about mercy than fairness. Certainly, God’s ways are not OUR ways.
Some have asked me to address the upcoming elections and what is the Church’s stance on voting. No doubt they might have seen the news that a priest in Wisconsin took a very political stand from the pulpit, saying, “No Catholic in good conscience can vote for a Democrat!” Priests are not permitted to say things like this from the pulpit, and you will never hear me taking a political stance from there. The right to choose who we vote for does have consequences and as disciples of Jesus, ours is a very important exercise in religious liberty. I would direct all of you to see the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops website (USCCB.org) for the Church’s guidance in this matter. In a document revised and reissued in 2018, the bishops have given all of us a good reflection, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” They say in the document, “The Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them to develop a well-formed conscience. Catholics have a serious and lifelong obligation to form their consciences in accord with human reason and the teaching of the Church. Conscience is not something that allows us to justify whatever we want, nor is it a mere “feeling” about what we should or should not do.” The document is very helpful as we face November 3rd. I encourage you to read it. The bishops conclude by asking us, as we should in all things, to pray and propose the following prayer:
Merciful Father, thank You for inviting each of us to join in
Your work of building the Kingdom of love, justice and peace.
Draw us close to You in prayer as we discern Your call in our families and communities.
Send us forth to encounter all whom You love;
Those not yet born, those in poverty, those in need of welcome.
Inspire us to respond to the call to faithful citizenship,
During election season and beyond.
Help us to imitate Your charity and compassion and to serve as models of loving dialogue.
Teach us to treat others with respect, even when we disagree, and to seek to share Your love and mercy.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.
Finally today, while I am on vacation at home in New England, I will not have a Pastor’s Column for the next several weeks. Hopefully absence will make the heart grow fonder.
God Bless! Have a great week!
Please continue praying 3 Hail Marys.