In this week's Gospel, Jesus moves from Galilee to teach in Judea where he is sought out by great crowds and tested by the Pharisees on issues such as marriage and divorce. Jesus also encounters a rich young man who is unable to accept Jesus' demand that he leave his possessions to follow him. Jesus' response to the rich young man sounds very much like the conclusion we will find in today's Gospel: the first will be last and the last will be first.
On the surface, the parable of the workers in the vineyard appears to be an offense to common sense. Those who work a longer day ought to be paid more than those who work just an hour or two. When viewed in this way, the landowner seems unfair. That is because we are reading into the parable our own preconceived notions of how fairness and equality should be quantified.READ MORE
This Week's Gospel reading directly follows last week's Gospel in which Jesus taught the disciples how to handle disputes and conflict within the Christian community. In today's reading Peter asks Jesus how many times one ought to extend forgiveness to another. Peter proposes a reasonable number of times, perhaps seven. Jesus replies by extending Peter's proposal by an enormous amount; not just seven times should one forgive, but 77 times. The parable of the unforgiving servant is Jesus' elaboration of his initial reply to Peter. Through the parable we come to understand the depths of God's mercy toward us and the results of our acceptance of God's forgiveness.READ MORE
This week's Gospel reading is taken from a chapter of Matthew's Gospel, which is sometimes called the "discourse on the Church" or the "church order" discourse. In this part of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus speaks more directly about matters of Church discipline and order. In today's reading we find one of only three instances in which Jesus uses the word church in Matthew's Gospel. In Matthew's record of Jesus' teaching, we can hear echoes of the kinds of issues faced by the early Christian community.
In the first part of the "discourse on the Church" (Matthew 18:1-14), Matthew addresses the Christian community's concerns about rank. Jesus responds to the disciples' question about who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus indicates that those who wish to enter the kingdom of heaven must be like children, and he cautions those leaders who might lead these "little ones" astray. He also responds with the parable of the lost sheep, indicating how God will seek out and bring back those "little ones" who have strayed.READ MORE