The parable our Lord tells in today’s gospel is pretty straightforward and easy to understand: A man has two sons and asks both of them to go work in his vineyard. The first son says “No” to his father, but later changes his mind. The second one agrees to go, but doesn’t actually show up.
Today’s reflection is based on Matthew 20:1-16.
For me, today’s Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is yet another proof that the Lord Jesus was not only a master story-teller during his earthly life, but also an exceptional reader of the human heart, one who truly understood human nature.
This homily based on Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:13-17 was delivered on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
The Lord has an uncanny way of turning things upside down. “Samaritan” used to be a bad word among the Jews until our Lord cast that unlikely character as the kindhearted stranger in his famous parable. Crucifixion used to conjure the most horrific and brutal images during the Roman times until the Lord climbed up his cross and died for sinners.
The cross has become the central religious symbol for Christianity, found today in both churches and homes, and worn around the necks of believers (as well as ears of rock stars!). Why, the Church has even dedicated a special day for it because it didn’t consider Good Friday enough. Hence, we have today’s feast called “The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.”
Sometimes we feel like our lives are all tangled up in knots. It may be because of a major crisis that we are facing–a financial problem, a painful relationship, or a serious illness of a loved one or our own. It may be as simple as something hurtful that someone said about us or did to us, and whatever it is, it’s causing us pain or anxiety. Or sometimes we feel our life is in knots simply because we feel entangled in our own needs and desires. There seem to be so many of them unfulfilled, and we feel frustrated and helpless.
This reflection is based on Matthew 18:15-20.
In one unforgettable undergrad psychology class many years ago, we were taught how to give “constructive feedback.” The idea was to choose your words carefully so that you can help people receiving the feedback to be open and to improve themselves. I still remember the formula: “Focus on a specific behavior of the person–and not on the person, and talk about how the behavior affected you and your feelings without judging the other person.”