20th Wednesday Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Ez 34:1-11 Psalm Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 Mt 20:1-16
What does guilt feel like?
When was the last time that you got caught doing something that filled you with a sense of guilt? Perhaps it was speeding on the highway, or as a kid getting caught in some very wrong behavior. I want you to take some time to think back to that sense of guilt that you felt.
Shepherds are being called to task
I wanted you to have that experience in mind today, so you could have solidarity with me – this is how I felt when I listened to the first reading this morning because whenever scripture speaks about shepherds our (we bishops, priests and deacons) ears ought to perk up – because God is speaking to us. I don’t know if you caught it, but the prophet Ezekiel did not have very flattering things to say to us, the clergy this morning. It might leave us feeling guilty about the poor ways that we have gone about living out our ministry as shepherds that God has entrusted to us.
All of us have flocks to care for
But we clerics are not the only people here today with a flock to shepherd, because as parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, we too have those to whom God has entrusted us to shepherd. This means that all of us here ought to experience a certain amount of guilt when we listen to the reading from Ezekiel today.
In truth we cannot dismiss guilt
It is important for us to recognize our own sense of guilt. Modern Psychology has sought to remove the effects of guilt from our lives, because in its wisdom, psychology sees guilt as evil. One of the tools that is often used in this treatment of guilt is that of moral relativism which is the idea is that the truth can be what-ever I make it, so we make justify our behaviors in terms of what we do, and don’t worry about the guilt.
Responding to guilt leads to conversion
The problem with this is that all humans have an innate love of the Truth, and eventually these lies will unravel. Catholics have always viewed guilt as a good thing – because guilt leads us to examine our behavior in the light of the Truth – Jesus Christ. If we have an experience of guilt, then we have an opportunity for conversion, to change our ways.
Taking care of the flock means working in the vineyard
In the Gospel today, Jesus is describing the Kingdom of Heaven in the terms of a Master who is always going out of his vineyard to find new workers to help him in the harvest. It does not matter what the time of day is in our life, God is always coming to us and inviting us to work with Him in His vineyard. The challenge for us workers loafing on the side of the street today is how will we answer his invitation? What work is the Lord calling you and I to do today in His vineyard? How are we called to pasture His sheep?