Adequate Rulers and Kingdoms, Wednesday of the 20th Week of Ordinary Time (I), August 21, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Wednesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of Pope St. Pius X
August 21, 2013
Judges 9:6-15, Ps 21, Mt 20:1-16

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click here: 


This is a summary of the points made in the homily:

  •  In the first reading from the Book of Judges, we see how the citizens of Shechem and Beth-Millo (representing all Israelites) erred in their desire for a ruler. They wanted Gideon to serve as their stable judge and ruler, whereas what God wanted was for him to serve as their judge and ruler. When Gideon refused, Abimelech, one of his 70 sons, took notice. After Gideon was dead, he attempted to slaughter all of his brothers so that he could be king, killing every single last one except Jotham who escaped. Abimelech was a terrible king, killing not only his brothers but many of the citizens. That was the prophetic parable of Jotham in today’s first reading, that when the desire for a ruler other than God becomes intense, we’re not going to be the best rulers, like the Olive, or the Fig, or the Vine. Instead we’ll get destructive buckwheat. The point is when we’re not going to let the Lord rule over us, we’ll accept even despots, because we’re already despots over ourselves.
  • We’re made to have the Lord rule over us and we see something about his rule in the parable of the Kingdom in the Gospel. The kingdom is not only the generous gift of the Lord, but also a great responsibility for us to go to work in the kingdom. The master in the parable doesn’t give denarii to those in the square, but only to those who work, even if they get to work late. Likewise, for us to allow the Lord to rule over us, we have to accept our responsibility in his rule, to go to the vineyard that is ripe for the harvest and to roll up our sleeves and work. Allowing the Lord to reign means accepting our participative self-rule.
  • Pope St. Pius X was one who did this, from a very early hour in his life, and worked hard as a student, seminarian, priest, seminary teacher, bishop, cardinal and pope. His papal motto was to restore all things in Christ and he sought to restore Christ’s reign by several standard practices that are essential to any restoration and therefore to our own work in the vineyard. He focused first on the Eucharist, to make it the root and center of the life of the Church, through frequent communion, first communion at about 7 instead of about 18, and the renewal of the celebration of the Mass. He banned orchestral masses because many were coming to Church only for the “concert” instead of for God’s word and the Word-made-flesh. He promoted the renewal of Scripture Studies among Catholics, including ordinary Catholics. He finished a project of the compilation of canon law to help all priests and those they serve learn both the what and why of the expectations concerning good order in the Church. He did so much more to restore the faith of the people and to encourage the people of God to get involved as workers in the Vineyard. He did his work in the Vineyard, as a vicar of the King. Now it’s our turn.


These were the readings for the Mass: 

Reading 1
JGS 9:6-15

All the citizens of Shechem and all Beth-millo came together
and proceeded to make Abimelech king
by the terebinth at the memorial pillar in Shechem.When this was reported to him,
Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim and, standing there,
cried out to them in a loud voice:
“Hear me, citizens of Shechem, that God may then hear you!
Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’
But the olive tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my rich oil,
whereby men and gods are honored,
and go to wave over the trees?’
Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come; you reign over us!’
But the fig tree answered them,
‘Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit,
and go to wave over the trees?’
Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come you, and reign over us.’
But the vine answered them,
‘Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men,
and go to wave over the trees?’
Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’
But the buckthorn replied to the trees,
‘If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith,
come and take refuge in my shadow.
Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’”

Responsorial Psalm
PS 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (2a) Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
O LORD, in your strength the king is glad;
in your victory how greatly he rejoices!
You have granted him his heart’s desire;
you refused not the wish of his lips.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
For you welcomed him with goodly blessings,
you placed on his head a crown of pure gold.
He asked life of you: you gave him
length of days forever and ever.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
Great is his glory in your victory;
majesty and splendor you conferred upon him.
You made him a blessing forever,
you gladdened him with the joy of your face.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
MT 20:1-16
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”