Septuagesima Sunday The Gospel Mat. 20 v.1. Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 20:1-16
At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable:"The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle. And he said to them: 'Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.' And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: 'Why stand you here all the day idle?' They say to him: 'Because no man hath hired us.' He saith to them: 'Go ye also into my vineyard.' And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: 'Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.' When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, Saying: 'These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.' But he answering said to one of them: 'friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?' So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen."
This Sunday being three weeks before lent, the Church invite us to labor in Gods vineyard this Lent, and to that purpose appointed this gospel to be read, and peculiar name, to witt, Septuagesima Sunday because it is seventy days before Easter,and the next, Sexagesima as being Sixty days; & the next Quinquagesima being fifty days before Easter, which serve to prepare us for the worthy keeping of Lent.
Consideration for Sunday
Though man by reason of his creation, and much more of his redemption, was bound like a servant to do the work of God, without any wages: and though his service, when he had done all he was able, was nothing unto God, who had no need thereof, but only for his own good: Yet, of his infinite goodness, and love towards him; he would hire him for wages to do him service, and bind himself by covenant to pay him for it, by reason whereof, there grew between God and man a kind of justice, and merit.
All this is described in this parable: He that hireth the labourers,is God; the labourers, we; the vineyard, the Catholic Church; the work,the keeping of the commandments of God, and holy Church; The wages the Kingdom of heaven. This wages he made due unto us, according to Saint James, by his promise: blessed is the man, saith he, that sufffreth temptation, because when he hath been tried, he shall received the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him; and here he saith to the labourers: and what is just I will give you; and again, did I not hire thee for a penny a day? Here we may consider the wonderful goodness of God that would bind himself to give us wages to serve him,and so great wages, as Kingdom of heaven; we being bound to serve him without any, by the titles of creation, and redemption.
Likewise that he would bind himself by Covenant; by reason whereof we, which are his creatures of nothing, and consequently no proportion of justice with him for any thing we could do, may now, if we serve him, have a title of justice and of merit.
Where upon St. Paul,having expressed how faithfully he had served God, concludeth thus: It remaineth that a crown of justice (that is to say due unto me by right,and justice) is laid up for me, which Our Lord being just, will render unto me:and not only unto me, but to all that love him: and in this parable the Master of the house, when he paid the wages,said unto some, that murmured because they had no more then some others, that came later: Take that which is thy due, and be gone. We being therefore as it were hired by this gospel to labor in Gods vineyard this Lent, we may consider that we must be labourers in our salvation ourselves, and not lay all upon the back of our Saviour Christ, as though we had nothing to do in the work of our salvation,or were hired to be idle; where as these labourers said they had wrought hard, and born the burden of the day,and of the heat.
And Saint Paul calleth upon us to work our salvation, with fear, and trembling; Neither is it by dishonour to God, but greater honour that we should work,our salvation, then that we did not; because besides the benefit of the passion of Christ, he addeth his fatherly grace to enable us to do it,without which we could do nothing worthily of salvation:And who knoweth not that the more gifts Godbestoweth upon us,the more is his glory.
When Christ said to the palsy man in the gospel: Thy sins are forgiven thee: The people magnified, not Christ, (whom they took to be a mere man) but God,that had given such power unto men; neither doeth Saint Paul esteem it any dishonour unto God to affirm, that in the work of our Salvation we are cooperators,and helpers of God, so long as we acknowledge it to be by his grace.
For if we help to work our salvation with grace of God, the glory redoundeth to God, not; to us peace to men, glory to God.