In the Gospel for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus tells the Parable of the Two Sons. “A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘ but did not go” (Matthew 21: 28b-30). My middle son always wanted to buy something in the store. My initial response was “No”. On a visit to the video store, I said “Yes”. I gave him a quarter for the gumball machine. That gumball won us a free video. Every visit thereafter, I gave him gum money. I relate to God in the same way. I initially resist what God asks of me. Later I change my mind and do the loving thing. With which of the sons do you identify? Why?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus tells the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. When the work day was over the all day laborers received the same wage as the laborers who started later in the day. “And on receiving it [all day workers] they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ ” (Matthew 20: 11-15). The latecomers received a wage far more generous than the hours of their work. The generous wage was a gift they did not earn. God is incredibly generous. God love us first. We do not earn God’s love. I still labor under the illusion that I do not do enough to love my family, care for my neighbors, reach out to those in need. I could do more. But God does not demand I earn God’s love. God wants me to generously share God’s love that I receive with others. In what ways are you generous with God’s love?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus tells the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. A servant whose master generously forgives his debt, refuses to forgive his debtor. “Peter approached Jesus and asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times’ ” (Matthew 18: 21-22).  Jesus expects his followers to always be willing to forgive. As God has mercifully forgiven us, Jesus wants us to forgive others. Are you struggling to forgive someone who has hurt you? How can God help?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus promises his disciples “if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father” (Matthew 18: 19).  Christians can trust on God’s support with decisions made together after prayerful discernment of God’s will.  When our children were growing up, my wife and I held family meetings to pray, schedule chores, plan activities, resolve conflict, and talk about other family issues.  We tried to lovingly discipline our sons by discussion, negotiation, and peaceful resolution.  We trusted God would bless our efforts to work together as a family.  Do you have confidence in the decisions you make with others in God’s name?  Why?  Why not?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus predicts his passion and death.  “Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’  [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do’ ” (Matthew 16: 22-23).  Fidelity to the will of God requires self denial.  We want to do what we want to do, not necessarily what God wants.  We want to retaliate against someone who hurts us.  We want to ignore others’ pain and suffering.  We want to judge people based on the color of their skin.  God wants us to care for others, even if it costs us something.  How can you think more like God does?

In the Gospel for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Peter professes faith in Jesus as messiah.  “[Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father’ ” (Matthew 16: 15-17).  Peter believes that Jesus is an instrument of God’s saving power.  After the resurrection, he will come to believe that Jesus is God incarnate.  Peter’s faith in Jesus grew.  How is your faith in Jesus?  What difference does Jesus make in your life?

In the Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus heals the daughter of the Canaanite Woman.  “But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’  He said in reply,  ‘It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.’   She said, ‘Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.’  Then Jesus said to her in reply, ‘O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish’ ” (Matthew 15: 25-28a).  Jesus hesitates to help the Gentile woman.  His mission was to the house of Israel.  Yet the woman persists with her plea for help.   She wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.  With faith in the healing power of Jesus, she humbly asks again.  Jesus grants her request.  The Canaanite woman is  audacious.  She boldly challenges the Lord for help for her daughter.  Faith in Jesus requires audacity.  Christian disciples wholeheartedly and recklessly give of themselves for others.  Christians hold nothing back to help those in need: a mentally ill relative, unemployed neighbor, an medically uninsured person of color, victims of racial injustice.  How has your faith emboldened you to help those in need?  How will it?

In the Gospel for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus and Peter walk on the water.  “ ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’   He said, ‘Come.’  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw how strong the wind was, he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ “(Matthew 14: 28-31).  Overcome with his love for Jesus, Peter courageously walks on the water.  Frightened by the storm, he begins to sink.  When besieged by the storms of life, fear can paralyze us.  Threat of the coronavirus, worries about job security, struggles to keep food on the table, care for an ailing parent or spouse, death of a loved one can all make us doubt in God’s loving care.  Especially in life’s storms, Jesus is extending a helping hand.  How does Jesus offer you a helping hand?  How do you to others?

In the Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus feeds the five thousand.  “Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full” (Matthew 14: 19a-20).  Jesus fed the hungry crowd.  Through us, Jesus continues to satisfy people’s physical and spiritual hungers.  Especially during the COVID-19 crisis.  Unemployed workers struggle to feed their families.  Quarantined nursing home residents get lonely for their family and friends.  Stricken with COVID-19, people of color have limited access to health care.  How are you satisfying the hungry?

In the Gospel for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus tells the parable of the Pearl of Great Price.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it” (Matthew 13: 45-46).  Jesus wants his disciples to value of the reign of God and commit all the way to God’s will.  No half way will do.  St. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life in exchange for the life of another concentration camp prisoner.  St. Therese of Lisieux (Little Flower) did small things with great love.  When have you given your all for God’s love?