How can you help fallen-away family members return to the Lord? Many of us ache over our loved ones’ separation from God, be it through ignorance, stubbornness, woundedness, or otherwise, but we feel inadequate in our attempts to draw them to faith. We present a Gospel reflection on the parable of the land-owner and the laborers in Matthew 20.

Father Ian VanHeusen presents his weekly reflection and spiritual exercises on the Mass readings from the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 20, when Jesus tells the parable of the land-owner who seeks laborers for his vineyard, and pays them according to a day’s wage.

We invite you to watch Father’s video, then prayerfully read the Gospel and reflection. We pray that this might help you in your apostolate, your family, your classroom, or personally… to prepare for and more deeply experience Sunday’s Mass, and to better integrate the Sacrament and the readings into your daily life.

Three key points to drawing loved ones (back) to God:

1. Always have hope. Cultivate hope and resist temptation to indifference or despair.

2. Maintain a gentle presence in their lives.

3. Be persistent. Constantly and consistently seek after them.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (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, the landowner 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, the landowner 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.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Spiritual Exercise

1. Add one little prayer to your daily routine: “God, through Mary, give me an increase in hope (especially for the conversion of ____ ).

2. Rehearse in your mind a gentle interaction with the person you’re hoping to draw back to God. Rewrite those agitated conversations in your imagination. Imagine your facial expression, your tone, and your words in inviting him or her to Mass… or in answering his or her normally antagonizing comments with gentle joy and patience.

3. Spend some time in meditation on a conversation with Jesus. Tell Him about this person and how much you long for his/her return to God. Ask Him for the grace of perseverance in your witness to this person. Ask Him to help you surrender the hard work to Him and to the Blessed mother, but to help you to never tire in hope.