26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a story of two sons.  The parable dramatizes the classic difference between lip service and performance.  One son said he would obey his father but did not.  The second son, who refused to obey his father, later regretted the refusal and did what he was told.  Who was the greater man?  Who was obedient?  The apostles agreed it was the second son.   Jesus then applied the story to the pious person who uttered, all the correct religious platitudes but does his own thing.

Sinners, like the tax collectors and prostitutes of the time of Jesus, originally said no to God’s  command to live a good life (work in the vineyard).  Now that they hear the call to God’s Kingdom,  they respond to that call and are more likely to find the kingdom and ultimately obey the Father’s will.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day put on a good show of being holy.  No doubt some of them were.  But Jesus was not impressed with many of them.  He wanted people to be honest with themselves.  He wanted people who, if they were sinners, would admit and get themselves  right with God.

Talk is not going to impress God.  Excuses are not going to impress God.  It is the good that we do that pleases God and bring us to eternal happiness.  We can make lots of promises to ourselves about what we are going to do tomorrow, but it is what we actually do that really matters.  Jesus explains to us that if we are not doing what is right, it is never too late  to change our mind.

God Bless

– Msgr. Powell

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s parable is more about generosity of God than about working conditions.  They story is more about the supreme goodness of God than about wage settlements.

The punch line of the parable is : ”I intend to give this man who was hired last the same pay.  I am free to do as I please with my money, am I not? Or are you envious because I am generous?”  What we here is the behavior of a large-hearted man who is compassionate and full of sympathy for the poor.  One hour’s wage would not be enough to feed these families.  So he pays them a full day wage.

If we cry for justice that we worked all day in the heat of the sun, then we miss the point of the parable.  This is a story about God’s goodness not about labor-relation guidelines.

Jesus wants us to see that the owner is what God looks like.  He is all goodness and compassion, all mercy and generosity.  Jesus is telling us that when God does something,  He does it in a big way—with extravagance and generosity, with flair and foolishness.

We need to praise God for always giving us more than what we are entitled to; for forgiving us more than we deserve; for blessing us with more than we worthy of.

My friends, we need to pray each day and ask God that we may be more generous with each other—by not just forgiving offenses, but also by forgetting them; by not just fulfilling our duties, but by offering to do more; by not just doing what  is expected of us, but also by doing the unexpected that delights people so much.

God Bless

Msgr. Powell


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel Matthew deals with an issue that can touch all of us.  How are members of the Church to deal with those who sin against us?  Matthew recounts a three-step process by which the matter is to be resolved.  First, the offended party is to address the offender privately.  If that fails to produce reconciliation, two or three witnesses are to be introduced into the process.  If no progress is made, then the case should be brought before the entire community.

The graduated process was probably the method that Matthew’s community used to resolve disputes.  The purpose of the process was not to punish but to restore the offender to the community: “If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.”

Matthew tells us that if the offender refuses to cooperate even with the decision of the church, he or she should “be to you as a gentile or tax collector.”

Matthew’s community is made up of Jewish—Christians.  This statement amounts to a decree of excommunication. In other words, there comes a time when the procedure has run its course and failure must be admitted.

The decree of excommunication stands in some tension with Jesus’ demand for limitless forgiveness within the Church.  Although forgiveness is always demanded, an offender is not free to do whatever he or she desires. There are consequences for bad decisions.

Praying with others is so important to Jesus that he attached two promises to it.  First, if we join together to ask for anything whatever, it will be give to us.  Second, if we gather together in His name, He will be present to us.

Gods answer to our prayer may not remove all our troubles, but it will renew our strength to deal with them.  He is always present to us when we pray.  What we cannot do alone, we can do together in terms of correction and forgiveness, healing and service, working together and building a community.

God Bless,

Msgr. Powell