Sunday Reflections


Each Sunday and Solemn Feastday, we celebrate the mysteries of our faith in a special way. We have resources here to enrich your celebration of God’s word this sunday.

Please join Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gerald Umoren as he reflects on the readings.



1St Reading: Isaiah 55: 6-9

Psalm: 145 [The Lord is near to all who call upon Him]

2nd Reading: Phil 1:20c-24, 27a

Gospel: Matthew 20: 1-16a


General Overview of the Celebration

In modern times, when man acts as if he can counsel God, it is important to emphasize the fact that man is man and God is no man! This transcendence of God is what the readings of this Mass emphasize but the beautiful thing is that this transcendent God is also immanent. The Church wants us to remember that God is merciful even in His justice and that His mercy is not unfair.

Background to the 1st Reading

This reading is from the 3rd part of Isaiah popularly called Trito-Isaiah. The background is that of the returning exiles who had to struggle with the difficulties of resettlement. Some of them, because of prevailing circumstances, were slow to understand the mighty hand of God at work and this passage, directed to them, is Isaiah’s call to consciousness of both the transcendence and immanence of God. These returning exiles really needed to know that God’s ways were different from man’s.


·         Seek the Lord while He may be found

·         Calling on the Lord while He is near

·         God thinks differently from the way man does

·         Though transcendent, God is very much present to His people

Background to the 2nd Reading

Writing from prison custody, Paul knew that he was likely to face death but as a human being, he also wanted to be alive. His confusion and indecision regarding what to choose also goes to confirm that, as human beings, we are all subject to and should surrender to God’s will (actual or at least permissive). In Paul’s words, we must always conduct ourselves in ways “worthy of the Gospel of Christ”


·         Every Christian lives for Christ

·         Praying for the courage to accept God’s will in life

·         How does your life benefit others? [Considering the example of Paul]

·         Conducting oneself in a way worthy of the Gospel



Background to the Gospel

In this parable of the kingdom, Matthew tries to show that the highest reward for any Christian is the Kingdom of God which is made available to everybody. Writing mainly to a Jewish audience, Matthew sought to drive down the point that the Gentiles, considered as late comers into the ‘family of God’ have the same share of the divine reward (the Kingdom) with the Jews who were the first to be called and elected by God. Matthew seeks to show that this ‘justice’ of God which sounds ‘foolish’ to man is absolutely fair. This was also to keep the Jews on their toes lest ‘the first become last.’


·         It has already pleased the Father to give us the Kingdom

·         The wages for working in the Lord’s vineyard is good

·         Hired by the Lord...

·         Overcoming jealousy and envy

·         Count your blessings and not your losses

·         The last will be first and the first will be last...

·         We are members of one big family of God


Sample Homily

Theme: Hired by the Lord...

One of my priest friends threw a group of stern-looking U.S. immigration officers into confusion when he was asked about his employer at a security check point. Fr. John who was not dressed in his clerical dress for that trip quickly answered: “God”! “What?” exclaimed one of them, “are you kidding me?” he added. But Fr. John insisted again and explained: “I am a priest and the Lord God is my boss” At this they all burst into laughter and one of them cynically asked: “Did the Lord hire you?” and Fr. John proudly said “YES.”

One may argue that that was for a priest but you know what? Every Christian is hired by the Lord and is called to work in the Lord’s vineyard. The readings of this Mass especially the Gospel reading implies that we are all hired by the Lord. By virtue of our Baptism, we have already signed a contract to ‘work for the Lord’ and to promote His Kingdom. But in order to be successful in this ‘career,’ there are a few things we need to know about our boss and the nature of our ‘job.’ The readings of this Mass give us some insight into these things.

1.      Now is the time to work hard! There is no room for lazing about. When the 1streading says “seek the Lord while He may be found,” we should understand this to mean that this privileged ‘job opportunity’ must be well utilized while it lasts. There may come a time when situations may not permit much hard work (e.g. old age, sickness, and times of persecution) . If you are strong now, work for the Lord who has hired you!

2.      This boss (God), though transcendent, is very immanent and present to His people. He is, however, different from man and does not think like man. As the 2nd reading indicates, He wants every employee to conduct himself/herself worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

3.      No committed worker will be cheated by this boss. Just contribute your quota and He has the best formula to reward excellence. The greatest and highest reward for every committed worker, irrespective of time put in, is preservation in the Kingdom.. What matters most is the quality and not really the quantity of the service rendered.

With this in mind, let us get together, not just as members of one company, but as members of one big family of God and instead of wasting away this privileged opportunity in the unhealthy rivalry of who would be first or last before the boss, we should come to think of how to succeed together and build up God’s Kingdom together. This is exactly what the Lord needs and it is the reason why the Lord hired us!

From the Vatican...



The year in liturgy


Sunday Reflections