Almost always there is a close thematic relationship between the first reading and the gospel reading at Sunday Mass. We look back today at last Sunday’s Mass (25th in Ordinary Time) and its first reading. But bear in mind also the Gospel parable of the landowner and the labourers he calls to his vineyard.
Seek the Lord while he is still to be found,
call to him while he is still near.
Let the wicked man abandon his way,
the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him,
to our God who is rich in forgiving;
for my thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
One of the connections here, surely, is that the Lord/Landowner looks with eyes of love to those in need, and excluded from what makes for healthy life. Not that the unemployed workers of the gospel parable are presented as wicked or evil – but they may have been thought less suitable by those looking for good men for hire as labourers – perhaps because of age, temperament or handicap
In an earlier blog I said the reading put me in mind of Advent. Today I find myself reminded of a Christmas reading.
The early Christian writer Theodotus wrote:
The Lord of all comes in the form of a servant: and he comes as a poor man, so that he will not frighten away those he comes to gather.
He is born in an obscure town, deliberately choosing a humble dwelling place. His mother is a simple maiden, not a great lady.
If he had been born amid the splendour of a rich family, unbelievers would surely have said that the face of the world had been changed by the power of wealth.
If he had chosen to be born in Rome, the greatest of cities, they would have said the world had been changed by the power of politicians.
If our Lord had been the son of an emperor, they would have pointed to the advantage of authority.
But what did he do? He chose nothing but poverty and poor surroundings, everything that was plain and ordinary and did all this so that it could be seen clearly that the Godhead alone transformed the world.
His poverty showed how he who became poor for our sake is thereby made accessible to everyone. Christ made no show of riches which would have made people frightened to approach him. He assumed no royal state which would have driven people from his presence. No, he came among ordinary men and women as one of themselves, offering himself freely for the salvation of all humankind.
The Lord came to save humankind in form of Jesus of Nazareth, lacking many of the attributes the world may have looked for in a saviour.
Maybe today he comes to us in similar humble form – perhaps in the form of one who needs our help, rather than as our evident helper. So will we meet him in that humble form, or will our pride and worldliness mean he is hidden from us, in our neighbour.
At the end of the day, look back over the day.
- Where have you shown love?
- What did it cost you?
- What did you receive?
Image found here.