Through my work with the boys and girls of Mercy Home, I have come to see that each of us is, in a way, dealt a certain card from the deck – and we cannot give it back. It might not be fair – but it is reality. We must make the most of the card that has been dealt to each of us, and as Christians, we must follow Jesus and his example so that one day we might enter the kingdom.
This thought occurred to me when I gathered with a group of our boys from Mercy Home one afternoon in the Jesus the Healer Chapel. Prior to saying a prayer together, I asked them what they were grateful for – what they wanted to thank God for this night.
One of the boys said that he was grateful to God that he had a safe place to live and a warm bed to sleep in. He went on to say that prior to coming to Mercy Home, he lived in a neighborhood that was filled with gang activity, random shootings, and terrible violence. Inside of his apartment, he lived with a mother who, though loving, had many addictions. In addition, his mother’s boyfriend would hit him and his mother for no reason. This young man said he was grateful to God that he was now at Mercy Home. He was grateful that he is safe and no longer has to live in fear. He was grateful that at Mercy Home he can get a good night’s rest, has nutritious food to help him grow and has been presented with the opportunity for an excellent education.
This young man helped me see that no matter what card we are dealt, it is up to us to find the right path and follow Jesus and his example.
The Gospel passage from the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time this month is a story that speaks to us about how even when life may seem unfair, it is God who puts each of us on a level playing field. Like God, the landowner in the Gospel treats all the laborers in the vineyard both fairly and generously. I cannot help but think just how fortunate we are that our God treats us so well – better than we often deserve. God recognizes that at times we might fail, and yet is patient with each of us.
“IT IS UP TO US TO FIND THE RIGHT PATH AND FOLLOW JESUS’ EXAMPLE.”
As we gather around the table of the Lord to celebrate this Eucharist, we are given the opportunity to thank God for the many ways in which we have been blessed. We are also called to pray for those who are less fortunate than we are – the poor, the lonely, the sick, the hungry, those who do not know God, and for children, especially the children in the world like the young man from the story, who suffer innocently and often in silence.
During this month of September, I pray that each of us might be grateful for God’s generosity to us, which is so great and bountiful, that each of us, no matter who comes first to work in the “vineyard” and follows Jesus and His Gospel message, will inherit the kingdom. I pray that we might remain mindful that while each of us has been dealt a different card from the deck, Jesus welcomes each of us to the kingdom with open arms. I encourage you to follow Jesus and do the same for others.