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Youth Ministry Resources - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matthew 20:1-16 - The generosity of God - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Australia has a long history of recognising the rights of workers and over many decades through legislation, trade unions and the Industrial Commission the workers have been provided with protection from exploitation and fair wages, we are in fact the envy of many countries. Reading today's gospel from an Australian perspective there does seem to be a problem with justice when we look at how the workers were treated.

If we were among those hired at dawn for a day's work we could very easily be jealous of those who worked for one hour and received the same wage but the problem with many of the parables that Jesus uses to teach us, is that we apply our human reasoning or only one lens and in this case, we used justice. We can get into difficulty if we only apply one lens because our human reasoning fails when we try to analyse God.

We hear of the men who waited at the crossroads or market place to be hired and it is worth remembering that those who were hired at the 11th hour had been waiting all day for someone to hire them. These were not lazy workers, they wanted to work but suffered the curse and stigma of unemployment so they were marginalised and unable to provide for their families, they were the poor we hear so much about. Once again we can be very quick to judge those who do not have employment and today's gospel reminds us that it could very easily be us standing in that market place waiting for the opportunity to participate.

If we change our lens from justice to generosity the story takes on a whole new meaning. As often as we pray the Our Father we pray "your kingdom come…" and in doing so we pray that God's way of looking at us, God's creatures, will come into being or to fruition. So, in this case, we are praying that God's overwhelming generosity will determine our world, God's generosity with the gift of salvation - an un-merited free gift, will be available to all, especially those who come late. No one can claim to be more deserving than others whether they be bishop or baby, president or pauper, each of us is God's child who receives the inheritance won for us by Jesus.

The Reign of God, the Basileia the Kingdom of Heaven, whatever we call it, we know that God's reign will be through the lens of love, the same lens we are asked to apply to everything we do so that we can live our lives to the full, lives that develop each day into the creation God has in mind for us. So while we might pursue justice our springboard must always be graced generosity.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 16:1-13 - Parable of the Dishonest Steward - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Initially, this parable seems rather obscure and the behaviour that is affirmed seems rather questionable. Once again, it is worth providing insights into this 1st C Mediterranean culture. The steward was authorised to make binding contracts for his master. The interest or usury so common in this time was charged by the steward and not listed separately in the contract but included in one lump sum. So a person may have obtained only 450 gallons of olive oil but because of the 100% interest charged, had 900 gallons written on the contract.

The rich landlord was an absentee landlord who most likely cheated the Palestinian landowner out of his land and has left a steward in charge while he resides in another country. The rich landlord would not be a beloved figure in Palestinian society. Upon hearing of the master's decision to punish him, the steward does not indulge in self pity but sets out to get even with his master in the hope that those whose debt is forgiven will reciprocate with him in some manner when he loses his position. The praise given the steward is more for being decisive rather than diminishing usury and profit. To be indebt to a landlord usually meant that you were struggling in your own business, so the steward was helping people who were needy and were providing work for local people. The bottom line in this parable is that when we have possessions we should be using them for the benefit of others, especially the needy.

When the estates and belongings of elderly people are being distributed, some people become rather greedy. Some are relatives and some are on the edges but both are opportunistic. Taking possession of someone's furniture or treasures becomes the focus rather than the fairness of the distribution. This experience of greed has split many families and harmed numerous relationships. It is important that we have a sense of distance with possessions. What is the point of amassing a house full of possessions that are often beyond our needs? The reality is that there are so many people worse off than we are and to share what we have been fortunate to have lessens the grip than possessions can have on us. The 'master' of our household is God, if we are too busy clutching our possessions, we leave no room for God. All that fits in a grave is a coffin.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time