I read today commentary by Pope Francis on last Sunday’s Gospel... The parable of the vineyard labourers (Matthew 20 : 1-16), reproduced below.
It brought to mind a message of Our Lady, apparently given to the Medjugorje locutionist Jelena on December 15, 1982. Presented by Fr Tomislav Vlasic at the time, part of it read:
“Hurry to be converted. Do not wait for the great sign. For the unbelievers, it will then be too late to be converted…”
As far as any of the monthly messages mentioning the phrase “too late”, I can only find one, that given to Marija on August 25, 2007.
“And you who are far from God’s mercy, convert so that God may not become deaf to your prayers and that it may not be too late for you. Therefore, in this time of grace, convert and put God in the first place in your life. Thank you for having responded to my call.” (part-message)
It seems to me Pope Francis takes a different view on the ‘lateness’ of conversion, implying that it is indeed a gift from God, and saying that it is difficult for us to understand God’s logic (His ways are not always our ways). Then there are the deathbed conversions we often hear and read about – (I know of one in particular concerning my best friend).
I’m not suggesting we continue to live the life of Reilly and not heed the call of God in our hearts, but a good example of leaving it to the last moment were the thieves crucified on Calvary – the one who turned to Jesus and the other who chose to mock Christ.
VATICAN CITY — The worst sin of all is not trusting in God's infinite love and not believing that God is always waiting for his sinning children to return to him, Pope Francis said.
"He is always at the door, waiting for me to open it just a tiny bit to let him in, and to not be afraid" of past sins getting in the way of conversion, the pope said in a homily Sept. 24.
The pope celebrated Mass in the Vatican garden's grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes for the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State, as the Vatican police force is formally known. The Mass came ahead of the Sept. 29 feast day of the security service's patron saint, St. Michael the Archangel.
Pope Francis told the police officers that the purpose of life is to seek the Lord and to convert, but one must realize it is God who takes the first step to encounter people.
"Our God doesn't tire of going out to look for us, of letting us see that he loves us" even though everyone is a sinner, he said.
God goes out into the world, sending his son among sinners, and calls out "Come!" the pope said. Even if people respond, "But it's so late" and there are so many sins, "for God it is never late. Never, ever! This is his logic of conversion."
"He respects every person's freedom, but he is there, waiting for us to open the door just a little," the pope said.
"The worst of sins, I think, is not understanding that he is always there waiting for me, not having faith in this love, distrusting God's love," he said.
Later in the day, reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter's Square, the pope underlined the same theme based on the day's Gospel reading of the parable in which Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who goes out from dawn to day's end looking for laborers for his vineyard. And those who started late in the day receive the same equal pay as those who began early and did more work.
It is difficult for people to understand God's logic, the pope said, because he is generous and offers salvation freely — not because of merit or because the person worked for it — but because it is a gift.
"It's about letting oneself be amazed and won over by the thinking and ways of God," which, "fortunately for us" do not correspond to human ways and logic, he said.
"Human thinking is often marked by selfishness and personal profit, and our narrow and twisting paths are not commensurate to the wide and straight roads of the Lord," the pope said.
"He uses mercy," the pope said, "he forgives broadly, he is full of generosity and goodness which he pours over each one of us, he opens to everyone the limitless territories of his love and grace," which are the only thing that can fill the human heart with the fullness of joy.http://www.ncronline.org
As to ALL the labourers receiving the same payment – one denarius, a priest I know explained it this way. The landowner (God) wasn’t concerned about how long the men had worked that day. His concern was to see that each man received enough to feed his family for a day. If the latecomers had been given only a proportion of what the men who had worked throughout the day received, then they would not have had enough to feed their family. They weren’t shirkers. They were willing workers, but no one had hired them until late in the day.
Human logic would probably reason that it was unfair that the latecomers received as much as those who began working early in the day.
I remember once being in Medjugorje many years ago. Just outside the village was a main crossroad. I was on my way to Široki Brijeg early in the morning. Standing at the crossroads were several groups of men waiting to be hired for the day. Not sure if all of them found work that day.