In our first readings for yesterday and today at Mass, the Prophet Ezekiel ( 24,1-11) has some wise but hard words for secular and religious leaders. St. Matthew’s gospel today about the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20,1-16) has some lessons for ordinary people too.
Yesterday Ezekiel spoke against the King of Tyre for making himself a god. Clever, successful, sure of himself, the King of Tyre sits on the throne that belongs to God alone. He will be pulled from his throne and put to a violent death.
Remember, though, Ezekiel is a Jewish exile in Babylon. He’s really speaking, not about the ruler in Tyre, but about the ruler in Babylon. Leaders like him shouldn’t make themselves gods. Only God is king over all. That’s true today as well as then.
Today, Ezekiel excoriates the shepherds of Israel, the Jewish religious leaders, who gouge their sheep for their own benefit. Woe to these shepherds, the Lord says.
Notice that God doesn’t say he will replace the shepherds with other shepherds. God himself will be their shepherd.
“Thus says the Lord GOD: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep …I will save my sheep… I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”
There’s no sign that God gives up on his people in our reading. In fact, God becomes more engaged than ever. He comes when times are bad. “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” The Lord is our shepherd.
The gospel reading from Matthew about the workers in the vineyard may also say something to us today. First, it says the owner of the vineyard is looking for a harvest. He wants it, it’s close to his heart, and so he calls laborers, as many as he can get, at any time he can get them.
God wills a kingdom to come.
The laborers ( they’re us) have their own ideas how it will come. They want to control the way things are done. They have fixed ideas and dispute the owner of the vineyard. He’s not fair, they say. Actually, he’s far more generous than their ideas make him to be.
Keep looking at the Word of God. Far wiser that what you hear and see on CNN, Fox, CBS, the New York Times, ABC. or Facebook, or Twitter…..