August 17, 2016

Aug. 17

August 17, 2016:  Wednesday, 20th week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Beast' pin:  They became food for the wild beasts (1st reading)
  • 'Olympics' pin:  My sheep were scattered over the whole earth (1st reading)
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  "Shouldn't shepherds pasture sheep, not themselves?...  I'll tend my sheep." (1st reading); "The Lord is my shepherd" (psalm)
  • 'Fruit' pin:  Landowner hired laborers for his vineyard (gospel) [the 'roads' tie trumped my 'grapes' tie]
  • 'Catcher's mitt' (with cupped hand) tie pin:  "My cup overflows" (psalm, though a stretch)
  • 'Roads' tie:  The Lord guides me in right paths (psalm)
  • 'Clocks' (tie bars, tie pin):  master hired at different times (dawn, 9am, noon, 3pm, 5pm) (gospel)
  • 'Money' tie bar:  Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
  • Blue and green shirt:  verdant pastures, restful waters (psalm), Ordinary Time (season)

Pope Francis Audience
In the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Jesus’ showed compassion for his followers.  Jesus loves us so much and wants to be close.  Jesus involved his disciples in the miracle, showing them that what little they had, with faith and prayer, could be shared by all.  It's a miracle of faith, prayer, compassion, and love.
Jesus’ actions at the miracle are what he did at the Last Supper, and what priests do at Mass.  The Christian community is born and reborn continually by Eucharistic communion.  Our communion with Christ impels us to go out and offer people concrete signs of Christ's mercy, becoming “servants of mercy.”  May the Lord always make his Church capable of this holy service and help each of us to be instruments of communion in our relationships, visible signs of God's mercy.
  • Ez 34:1-11  Lord to Ezekiel:  "Prophesy against the shepherds:  'The Lord says:  Woe to you shepherds who have been pasturing themselves instead of sheep!  You didn't strengthen the weak, bind up the injured, or seek the lost.  So they were scattered and became food for beasts.  I'll come against you, stop your shepherding, and claim my sheep to tend.'"
  • Ps 23:1-6  "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want."  He gives me repose and leads, refreshes, and guides me, gives me courage, anoints me...
  • Mt 20:1-16  “The Kingdom is like a landowner who at dawn hired laborers for his vineyard and returned to hire more at 9, noon, 3, and 5.  When he paid them all the same, he told the ones who grumbled because they didn't get more for working longer, 'Take what's yours and go.  Didn't we agree on the usual daily wage?  Are you envious because I'm generous?’  The last will be first, and the first last.”

    • Creighton:  Ezekiel and his countrymen had been taken into captivity in Babylon.  We may have not been taken captive, our safety and security have been threatened.  As in Ezekiel’s time, many claim to have the answer, but many answers don't help the weak; many of today's “shepherds” may be more interested in themselves.  God has called me to be a shepherd.  Jesus cared for the weak, the sick, the injured, and the lost; he told Peter to "feed my sheep."  My love for Jesus requires me to become a shepherd, but I don't always point others to Christ.  Today's psalm has the answer:  the Lord, the Good Shepherd, is always at our side, refreshing, guiding, and comforting us, giving us courage and confidence.  In his parable of the “workers in the vineyard,” Jesus makes it clear it's never too late to come to him....
      Or is it?
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Shepherding and suffering":  Ezekiel prophesied against the leaders exploiting those they were supposed to serve; they profited while the people suffered.  In the gospel, the workers were focused on what they'd get, not what the owner would get.  Jesus calls both bad and good shepherds to repentance.  Working for Jesus can involve working in the heat of God's vineyard and be a contest of suffering.  Suffering for God's sake is a test that shouldn't catch you off guard.  May the Good Shepherd use me....
    • Passionist:  Ezekiel expresses anger and judgment against the “shepherds” because they exploit those entrusted to them instead of protecting them.  Today the sheep are the poor, needy, exploited, victimized, lonely, confused, hopeless, loveless, suffering, or lost.  We're called to be shepherds; each has the responsibility to look out for all in need.  May we imitate the Good Shepherd and find ways to bless, build up, and do good.  It's never too late to help someone in need.
      Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
      Codex aureus Epternacensis
    •  "Do you begrudge my generosity?"  Today's parable shows God's generosity and compassion.  There's tragedy in unemployment, loss of work, and inability to earn enough to support oneself or one's family.  In Jesus' time, laborers had to wait to be hired each day; no work meant no food.  The laborers who worked all day complained that the master paid the latecomers the same.  God opens the kingdom doors to all who will enter, lifelong laborers or 11th-hour ones.  Some work only for reward; others labor out of love and joy for the opportunity to work and serve. The Lord calls each of us to serve with joy, zeal, and a generous spirit.  He wants to fill us with the Spirit's power and strength so we can bear fruit for God's kingdom and bring the fruit to others....  "Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord..., knowing that from him you'll receive the inheritance as your reward...."

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