Archive for category Kingdom

Matthew 20 :1-16 The Workers in the Vineyard

Parables are comparisons in which spiritual truth is pictured in vivid terms (Blomberg 1990). “Jesus’ invitation to enter his Kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching (Cf. Mk 4:33-34).

The Parable that was just read is commonly known as the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Mark Bailey calls this parable, “A day on the job in the kingdom of God.” (because the work takes place throughout the day and the payroll is at the end of the day.)

The parable emphasizes the times that the laborers were hired. The Landowner hired laborers early in the morning (6:00) and made an agreement with them to pay them a denarius for the day’s work. It says the owner agreed which makes me think the workers asked for the denarius and he agreed to it.

The Landowner went out again at 9:00, 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 and asked others if they would like to come to work without indicating what they would earn, only that he would be fair (vs. 4). If the first guy is going to get 1 denarius for 12 hours work, what do you expect the 2nd group to get? 3/4, then 1/2 then 1/4 and then 1/12th respectively.

At the end of the day, the Landowner went to pay them and started with the last group. He gave them each 1 denarius. What do you expect the next group to get? Three denarii. The next group six, and the next nine and the first group that was hired expects to get 12 denarii. But he gave everyone the same amount – one denarius – regardless of whether they had worked one hour or twelve hours.

It is not surprising therefore, that those were hired first complained and accused the owner of being unfair.

But the owner justifies his actions:

  • on the basis of agreement – they agreed to work for a denarius. The owner calls him “friend” which in Matt is not a term of endearment.
  • on the basis of ownership – can I do what I want with what is mine?
  • on the basis of generosity – can I be gracious to whom I want to be gracious?

Again, is the landowner unjust or unfair? Certainly not. The landowner is just when he paid them all individually with the same amount or salary because that was the thing agreed upon by the landowner and the labourers. The landowner is generous, compassionate and merciful when he paid them all individually with the same amount regardless of of whether they had worked one hour or twelve hours. Simply stated, the landowner is not unjust. Rather he is both just and gracious or compassionate or merciful.

This is the message and the challenge for all of us who are adopted children of God: to be just yet gracious, merciful and compassionate. “Mercy without justice is baloney. Justice without mercy is tyranny.”

“Grace and mercy are both expressions of God’s love, grace to the guilty and undeserving, mercy to the needy and helpless” (John Stott, The Letters of John). Let us, therefore, be merciful as Jesus is merciful (Lk 6:36) for “whoever acts without mercy will be judged without mercy” (James 2:13).May we have mercy on all, especially to those who are going through a time when they are given little or no mercy.

Prayer: Father, may I love those considered unlovable.

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Mt 13:44-52 Treasures New and Old

 The Parable of the Net has close similiarity with the two earlier parables, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Weed.

The Parable of the Net is closely similar to the Parable of the Mustard Seed in the sense that it describes the Kingdom of God as universal in scope and in nature. Hence, based on these two parables, the Kingdom of God here on earth is intended to accept men and women of all generations and of all nations and that include both the wicked and the righteous, the saint and the sinner, the good and the bad. In connection with this what is the challenge for us? To adopt an open, non discriminating and non judgmental and freewheeling approach to evangelization. A major problem which we will be encountering with this approach however would be: both the undesirables and desirables will enter and mixed in the Church. Some undesirables will be converted…Some undesirables who seemed promising in the beginning will betray God in the end. God does not make us responsible for this. But let us always be reminded to withold our judgment for judgment belongs, not to the disciples, but to God. This parable, however, is not a call to overlook grievous sin.  A few chapters hence, Jesus will establish procedures for reproving sinners and for excommunicating them if they fail to mend their ways (Mt 18:15-20).

The Parable of the Net is closely similar to the Parable of the Weed in the sense that these parable recognize the fact that the the Kingdom of God here on earth is composed of both sinners and saints. We cannot perfectly separate the two and eliminate the oter while the Kingdom of God is still on earth. Otherwise we will destroy the good together with the bad. We will uproot the weed while uprooting the weed whose roots were already entwined with the wheat. But when the day of the Final Judgment comes, the good and the bad will be totally and perfectly separated like what the fishermen did in the Parable. After having scooped up all sorts fish, both the good and bad the fishermen sorted their catch and discarded the unwanted or the usable fish.

Whether we like it or not the day of the final judgment will come. Matthew never tires in warning his readers of the reality of judgment and hence the importance of genuine discipleship.  It is a warning that both the world and the Church need” (Hagner).When that day comes the good and bad will finally and perfectly be separated. The wicked goes directly to hell to be punished eternally while the righteous will be rewarded in heaven and they “will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (Mt 13:43).

“Mention of the final judgment reminds the hearers and readers of the parables that discipleship is not a game of ‘let’s pretend’; it is a matter of life and death” (Brueggemann, 424). The reality of the final judgment once again remind us that following Jesus is not a game of “let’s pretend.,” it is a matter of life and death, it is a matter of salvation and damnation, it is a matter of happiness and misery. Choose life and lasting happiness with God and with our loved ones in heaven.

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Luke 17:20-25 The Coming of the Kingdom of God

One of the heresies which prevails in a large part of modern Christendom is the concept that Jesus did not organize a Church or set up a formal and visible kingdom through which salvation might be offered to men. This poorly translated verse is one of those used to support the erroneous concept that the kingdom of God is wholly spiritual; that it is made up of those who confess Jesus with their lips, regardless of what church affiliation they may have; that the kingdom of God is within every person in the sense that all have the potential of attaining the highest spiritual goals; and that baptism, the laying on of hands, Eucharist, marriage, and other sacraments, ordinances and laws are not essential to the attainment of salvation.

The contention of some critics that the Savior by these words taught that the kingdom of God is merely an inner, spiritual condition in the human heart, must very definitely be rejected. Such a condition may qualify for entrance into the kingdom, but it is not itself the kingdom … It is not … a state of mind … nor a disposition of men. The kingdom of God is a fact of history, not psychology … Jesus speaks everywhere of men entering the kingdom, not of the kingdom entering men” (Norval Geldenhuys, op. cit., pp. 443-444).

In the New Testament the term “Kingdom of God,” although used frequently (Matthew uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven”), is a very complex idea.  Usually the word has one of three meanings: the internal, invisible Kingdom; the social and visible Kingdom; or the final, triumphant Kingdom of God.

The internal Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the hearts of men by His grace.  It comes unawares and is within the souls of men (Luke 17:21), and consists not “in food and drink, but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).  The visible Kingdom of God is the Catholic Church founded by Christ.  It is for all men, contains even sinners, who will someday be cast out, grows from small beginnings (Matt. 13), and is a gift of God’s love (Luke 12:32).  The final Kingdom of God is the triumphant reign of God and His Christ.  When Our Lord shall return in glory at the end of the world, the Kingdom shall reach consummation (Rev. 19:11-16).  Christ instructed His followers to pray for God’s reign to be perfect and complete (Matt. 6:10).  Then, at the time of the resurrection of the dead, when the Kingdom is perfect, Christ will deliver it over to God the Father, and God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:24, 28).

Pope John Paul II further clarified the issue on the Kingdom of God in relation with Jesus and his mystical body, the Church:

As I wrote in the Encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, “the Kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God . . . One may not separate the Kingdom from the Church. It is true that the Church is not an end unto herself, since she is ordered towards the Kingdom of God of which she is the seed, sign and instrument. Yet, while remaining distinct from Christ and the Kingdom, the Church is indissolubly united to both” (n. 18).

To sum up and simplify everything, when we individually and collectively do the will of God as revealed by Jesus and taught by the Church we proclaim, build up, and spread the Kingdom of God, “an eternal and universal Kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface for the Feast of Christ the King).

Jesus invites us to enter the kingdom of God which is intended to accept men and women of all nations and ages, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the Kingdom, one must believe in Jesus and the One who sent him for our salvation (Jn 17:3; see also Dei Filius (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3012)), give up everything (Cf. Mt 13:44-45; 22:1-14)  deny oneself and take up one’s cross and follow him  (see Mt 16:24).   Words are not enough, deeds are required (Cf. Mt 21:28-32) especially “loving one another as He has loved us” (Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4). This commandment summarizes all the others, and expresses his entire will ( see CCC 2822).

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Mark 4:26-34 Seed Grows Of Itself

It is like a mustard seed. Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a mustard seed that is the smallest of seeds but becomes the largest of plants. Good things come from small beginnings. Insignificant things can become important; the ordinary can turn out to be special. There is always room for growth and improvement, for change and progress.

Small or insignificant, simple or ordinary, we are valuable in God’s eyes. We can contribute a lot and make a difference. God is always with us and will not give up on us. God gives us everything we need to progress in life and grow in grace. God even moves people to help us.

I will always do great and good things, even if unnoticed.

I will walk the way of holiness, no matter how rough and rugged it may be.

http://graceandspace.org/welcome/home/365-days-with-the-lord/1238-seed-grows-of-itself.html

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Mt 25:31-46 The Judgment of the Nations

 Solemnity of Christ the King – Year A
Ez 34:11-12,15-17; 1Cor 15:20-26, 28; Matt 25:31-46

We call Fernando Poe, Jr. as king of Philippine movies or Miss Gloria Romero as queen of the Philippine movies. We have also princes and princesses of Philippine action movies. We call Sharon CuÑeta as megastar or Maricel Soriano as diamond star or Vilma Santos as star of all seasons and Nora as Superstar.

We call too Inday Badiday as queen of intrigues but I don’t know if there is also king of intrigues. Christy Fermin as somebody says that she’s queen of gossip. But I don’t know if there is king of gossip. How about Jesus Christ? We call Him as King of all nations and today we dedicate this last Sunday of liturgical calendar of the church for this title. Next Sunday we will enter into the season of Advent.

The gospel that is being used is one of the most vivid parables Jesus eve spoke and the lesson is crystal clear that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment will not depend on the knowledge we have amassed or the fame we have acquired or the fortune we have gained or the success we have achieved but on the help and love that we have given for our neighbor.

This parable teaches us three things about that we must give to the three Ls (the Lost, the Least and the Last) of our society.

First, it must be help in simple things. Giving food to those who are in hungry is simple and very easy. Giving a glass of water to those who are thirsty is very simple and easy too. Everybody can do it. Or giving a bed to those who have none or visiting the sick and the prisoners are very simple and easy which everybody can do everyday. These deeds do not need our names to be written in a replica or to be published in a newspaper or to be flashed in the projector of the church so that others may see and read.

Second, it must be help which is uncalculating. Those who help did not think that they were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal merit. They helped because they could not stop themselves in helping. They help not because they run for public office or so that they may vote for them. They helped because it was natural and instinctive for them to help. Whereas, on the other hand, the attitude of those who failed to help was: “if we have known it was you we would gladly have to help, but we thought it was only common tao (person) who was not worth helping.”

I, myself, I am a victim of this. We back in 1988 when I was in my Spiritual Pastoral Formation Year (SPFY) in Cagayan de Oro City, we have had a one-month hospital exposure where we worked as janitors of the hospital. Some of the doctors and nurses knew that we were seminarians. It happened that I entered the room of a patient belonging to a middle class family in order to clean the room. The patient was sleeping. The mother of the patient got angry with me because I entered the room and I’m disturbing the patient in her sleeping. I reasoned out that it was the time for us to clean the room and I don’t know that she was sleeping but she did not listen. She continued talking and so I went out from the room without cleaning the room too.

Afterwards, she asked one of the janitors about me. The janitor told the lady that I am a seminarian. The following day when I entered the room, the lady was so accommodating and even gave me snack and invited me to have a lunch. She told me: “ I was thinking yesterday that you are just a mere janitor in this hospital that is why I shouted you yesterday and got angry with you. If you have just told me that you are a seminarian, then, I would not do it for you.”

“So, that’s the way you treat ordinary people like janitors?” I told her but she did not answer.

Up to this day, there are those who help because they are given praise, thanks and publicity and in that sense they have already received their rewards. But help like this is not help at all but in order to expand his or her self-esteem. I rather prefer and appreciate those who do not want their names to be published but just considering themselves as anonymous donors because in that sense there is a fulfillment and meaning in life.

Third, all such help given is given to him and such help withheld is withheld from him. Just like St. Francis of Assisi. He was a wealthy man, high-born and high-spirited but he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was out riding and met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved St. Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer and in his arms the face of the leper changed into the face of Christ.

May be today we could experience what St. Francis had experienced but there are so many instances that Christ is very much present. What they? You may discover them in others and our conscience will tell us.

Fr. Joseph Benetiz
http://justmehomely.wordpress.com

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Reflection:

Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine. It is said that heaven’s gate will be guarded not by Peter but by the poor who will let in only those they recognize who have helped them. There the question will no longer be what we believe in, what we have accomplished, or what we are bringing in. There and then, the question will be simpler: What have you done for these least of my brothers? And it will not be a question only of actions. We may have done charity, we may have donated much, and we may have given our time. But where was our heart? How did we live our life? Was care and concern our language?

It is also said that only two things will be asked at the end of life: First, did you find joy in your life? Second, was your life a joy to others?

Visit an orphanage with your family this Sunday 

http://graceandspace.org/welcome/home/365-days-with-the-lord/1166-the-judgment-of-the-nations.html

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