The readings today are rich with imagery: sheep, shepherds, landowners, laborers, the earth, pastures, valleys, and vineyards, marketplaces and wages. Sit with those images for a few moments. Read them again. What comes to mind?
The accompanying words of scripture ask us to be aware of our thoughts and actions. The gospel acclamation from Hebrews states, “The word of God is living and effective, able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (4:12)
My mind keeps flipping back and forth between the shepherds who were taking advantage of their sheep, the landowner and the laborers. The Lord God says he will look after and tend His sheep. He will come against the shepherds who did not protect their flock but looked after themselves alone. I hear words labeling the shepherds; exploitation, greed, injustice, and neglect. I picture images illustrating these words during my own life and throughout history. Am I listening to and following the Good Shepherd’s voice?
I read the Gospel again. Jesus tells his disciples that all who work in his vineyard, no matter when they begin the task, will be given their reward, “the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
A memory comes to mind of a youth lamenting the conclusion of a game where she got to heaven, but those there before her had taken down the celestial celebration because of all the work to clean up.
Next an image surfaces of Jesus on the cross telling one of the criminals that they will be together in paradise. This criminal stands up for the truth by telling his companion, ‘this man did nothing wrong.’ Jesus’ reward to him in their dying moments is the promise of joining Him in paradise that day.
Where is your focus drawn? How does this illustrate where your journey with Jesus our Lord God finds you today? Take the time to note where you are led throughout your day. Listen for His voice, for the things and people which lead you to Him or away from Him. Learn to discern what the right Way is for you in your daily life. Be vigilant and keep your focus on His love for you and all of His creation.
Please pray with me: Jesus, I trust in you. I know you are with me. Help me to keep my steps and my thoughts going your Way, wherever that may lead. May your grace and mercy continue to bless my journey, especially since I don’t know where it may take me. Help me focus on your shepherd’s voice of comfort and love. Amen.
Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here firstname.lastname@example.org.