Septuagesima Sunday [Dominica in Septuagesima]: January 28, 2018
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Primate, Eglise Catholique Eucharistique - Eucharistic Catholic Church
Beloved Disciple Catholic Church, Toronto
© 2018 Roger LaRade
1 Cor. 9, 24-27 & 10, 1-5; Matthew 20, 1-16
In the Traditional Roman Calendar, a period named pre-Lent begins three weeks before the First Sunday of Lent. This year, this period begins today with Septuagesima (Seventieth) Sunday, to be followed by Sexagesima (Sixtieth) and Quinquagesima (Fiftieth) Sundays. These Sundays are connected, by their titles, with Lent, called in Latin ‘Quadragesima’ (Fortieth). These three Sundays are not numbered exactly to Easter, yet their spiritual significance stands as a preparation for Lent, and so, for Easter. In the Mass, the tone is penitential: the Gloria in Excelsis is omitted, the Alleluia before the Gospel reading is replaced with a Tract, and purple vestments are used. This will continue throughout Lent until Holy Saturday. The period of pre-Lent helps us to ease into the great fasting and penitential observances of Lent.
On this Sunday, we re-begin our journey toward Easter. Indeed, some liturgists see in Septuagesima Sunday rather than the First Sunday of Advent a more appropriate beginning to the Liturgical Year. In the Divine Office, the readings bring us to the beginning of the Book of Genesis; that is, to the beginning of humanity’s journey in relationship to God. We are reminded of humanity’s distancing itself from God and of God’s invitation to us to return. The Church places us in the midst of the mystery of human life and of salvation history.
The Gospel readings for the three Sundays are, respectively, the Parable of the Labourers in the
Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23), and Jesus’ Going to
Jerusalem, with the Cure of Bartimaeus (Luke 18:31-43).
In the Gospel for this Sunday we hear the Parable of the Vineyard, in which workers called at different times, and therefore having worked different amounts of time, are all paid equally. This strikes me today as a beautiful image of God’s love for all of us. No matter at what time we respond to God’s invitation to love, God’s love will fill us according to His will. The Kingdom of God is not a meritocracy. God’s love is egalitarian.
And so, the Parable is also a poignant image of God’s answer to our pride and self-centeredness, and entitlement. No matter the value we place on our efforts in discipleship, no matter how we may highly esteem our ways compared to others, God loves us all equally. I am no better – and hopefully no worse – than anyone else who endeavours to love God and do good in the world.
Today, God is calling us to love Him in others without pride and self-centeredness, and entitlement; calling us to love without tallying the rewards; calling us to love without competition; calling us to love for His love alone.
As God invites us today, at this beginning of our preparation for Lent, let us consider how we love one another, and let us ask for the grace to love ourselves, to love others, as God loves us.
Our blog offers information on our monthly liturgical services, special events, news, and donation requests for our church and missions. It will also contain homilies for reading or printing.