Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Friday morning I had television on in the background… it was on Salt and Light. One of today’s greatest Christian preachers was preaching and excellent homily. Whenever she is on, I like to listen to her. She is known as Joyce Myers. She’s so engaging, humorous. I love her technique, her ability to hold the attention of her listeners and she’s on fire with the Word. As well, she is able to weave life situations into Scripture and make it relevant for our current times. Friday, she was speaking of God’s generosity and she went on to say that in God’s eyes, we are all extremely valuable because we are God’s beloved. And then she’d get the people to repeat it… “I am God’s beloved…” and then conclude with an “Amen!!”
The readings today show us how generous our God is to us… we are God’s beloved no matter what. And I think many people struggle with that. In the First Reading from Isaiah we hear, “My thought are not your thought, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. And then in Psalm 145:9 we heard, “The Lord is good to all.” And finally in Matthew, we heard question from the Landowner (God), “Are you envious because I am generous?”
In the Gospel for today, Jesus uses a parable or story as a way to respond to those who opposed him, and tried everything in their power to discredit him. They were concerned that Jesus was paying more attention to the outcasts than the more respectable members of society. We know that Jesus ministered to all people, especially those in need… his church was not a building but rather the street. Jesus was out there with the people!
One of our modern saint, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, modeled her life on the life of Jesus. Recognizing a need, she and her sisters went to the streets of Calcutta and began ministering to those who literally lay dying in the streets. When she was invited to speak at banquets or to receive a humanitarian award, she always showed up with 1 or 2 other sisters and they never stayed for the dinner. This would shock those in attendance and those who put the award ceremony together. She would simply do her talk or accept her award and then go off to a nearby convent for a simple dinner with some other community. Legend has it that a man with means was speaking with Mother Teresa and said to her, “What you do, I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” To his surprise, she responded with “Neither would I… I do it for love.”
And that is what Jesus is getting at in today’s parable… it’s not about money, it’s not about a just wage (as important as that it). However, today He is telling his followers and us, that in the Kingdom of Heaven, everyone is going to be treated with the same unconditional love and respect. In that parable, the landowner is God, and the wage is his love. The labourers are those who come into the Kingdom of heaven at different times and different stages in life. In that story, those who worked a full day and received their just wage were annoyed with those who came later or last moment. Instead of being happy for them, they become angry not at those who came later… but rather at the landowner… God!
My dear friends, Jesus is trying to show us, that the values of God are often the opposite of the values we see in this world. Those whom society assumes to be the last or least or lowest is as sacred to God as anyone else. Unfortunately, as humans we tend to judge… we like to think that we are in control… that we decide who gets in or gets approvalor who gets paid what!
True, we do not know the mind of God, but can we at least be open to the fact that our ways are not God’s ways? What may not make sense to us, certainly makes sense to God… can we trust that? Or perhaps this would help: in the words of the late Monsignor George Martin… In his booming voice, George often said, “God is in charge and we are not!” Let me hear you say it… The bottom line is this… in the end, because God is in charge, the God who loves, each and everyone of us without any strings attached will all receive more than we deserve. Amen.