Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.
Once, in a small village, there was a huge fire. The blaze spread and several homes and businesses were burned to the ground. After a long while, the fire was brought under control and put out. Villagers banded together to rebuild their town, but one quite persistent young man insisted on searching the rubble for the cause of the fire. Impatient townspeople scolded him, saying, "Why waste time searching for causes? Knowing them won't put out the blaze or repair the damage." "I know," replied the young man, "but knowing why might prevent other fires."
Sometimes we have to look at painful past experiences in order to prevent their recurrence. When we understand ourselves better, we can move beyond the past and walk toward the future with surer, safer steps.
How well can I use my past today?
Daily Bible Readings From The Universal Life Church World Headquarters
Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:1-11
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows,
2 'Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them, "Shepherds, the Lord Yahweh says this: Disaster is in store for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Are not shepherds meant to feed a flock?
3 Yet you have fed on milk, you have dressed yourselves in wool, you have sacrificed the fattest sheep, but failed to feed the flock.
4 You have failed to make weak sheep strong, or to care for the sick ones, or bandage the injured ones. You have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost. On the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and harshly.
5 For lack of a shepherd they have been scattered, to become the prey of all the wild animals; they have been scattered.
6 My flock is astray on every mountain and on every high hill; my flock has been scattered all over the world; no one bothers about them and no one looks for them.
7 "Very well, shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh:
8 As I live, I swear it -- declares the Lord Yahweh -- since my flock has been pillaged and for lack of a shepherd is now the prey of every wild animal, since my shepherds have ceased to bother about my flock, since my shepherds feed themselves rather than my flock,
9 very well, shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh:
10 The Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I am against the shepherds. I shall take my flock out of their charge and henceforth not allow them to feed my flock. And the shepherds will stop feeding themselves, because I shall rescue my sheep from their mouths to stop them from being food for them.
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it.
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 In grassy meadows he lets me lie. By tranquil streams he leads me
3 to restore my spirit. He guides me in paths of saving justice as befits his name.
4 Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death I should fear no danger, for you are at my side. Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.
5 You prepare a table for me under the eyes of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup brims over.
6 Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life. I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come.
Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16
1 'Now the kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard.
2 He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day and sent them to his vineyard.
3 Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place
4 and said to them, "You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage."
5 So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same.
6 Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing around, and he said to them, "Why have you been standing here idle all day?"
7 "Because no one has hired us," they answered. He said to them, "You go into my vineyard too."
8 In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, "Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first."
9 So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each.
10 When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each.
11 They took it, but grumbled at the landowner saying,
12 "The men who came last have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day's work in all the heat."
13 He answered one of them and said, "My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius?
14 Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the lastcomer as much as I pay you.
15 Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why should you be envious because I am generous?"
16 Thus the last will be first, and the first, last
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