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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 55:6-9
Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18 (18a)
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20:1-16a
September 20, 2020

Jesus continues to teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven.  Today He describes it using a parable of a landowner and his vineyard.  The topic within the parable is fair payment for work.

In those days, standard practice was to pay the workers at the end of each day for that day’s work.  Each morning the owner would decide how many workers they needed and hire them for the “usual day wage.

Throughout the day, this landowner kept hiring more workers, agreeing to pay them “what is just” without discussion of what that would be.  The assumption then (we would make the same assumption today) is that they would be paid in proportion to the number of hours worked.

The end of the day comes.  He starts by paying those who only worked the final hours.  They are paid the full usual day wage.”  The workers who worked the entire day were excited for “they thought that they would receive more.”  That was not the case as “each of them also got the usual day wage.

They are, and understandably so, upset.  Simple fairness says that those who worked more would get paid more.  We have the same expectation today.  In fact, labor laws today require most workers to be paid by the hour.

So, why did the landowner pay them all the same?

He had agreed to pay the workers hired first “the usual day wage.”  What was that wage based on?  It was set by what a person needed to provide for their family’s needs.

The landowner agreed to pay the workers hired later, “what is just.”  What is “just” is determined by what they need.  They need to provide for their families.  Yes, the landowner was generous in paying them the full “usual day wage.”  He did so to provide for their needs.

So, we can take this parable to help us think about what a “just wage” is for human labor.

We can also use this passage to reflect on our eternal reward.  If we follow Jesus as the way and the truth and the life, we will be welcomed into our place in Heaven.  Everyone is equal in Heaven.  Our place in Heaven is not something we earn.  It is a gift.  Anyone who dies truly believing in Jesus with a repentant and contrite heart enters Heaven.

It doesn’t matter if one only becomes a good Christian near death or if they are a lifelong believer.  God will forgive their contrite heart and grant them a place in Heaven.

That might not seem fair if they waited until near death to become Christian.  It might be tempting to think we can forget about God until we know death is coming and then repent.

Two problems with that.

First, we don’t know the hour of our death so you might die without the chance to repent.

Secondly, we are called to “seek the Lord.”  We are called to do this now.  If we think we can put off seeking the Lord today, planning a death bed conversion later, we are in fact turning away from God.  We are thinking that our ways are better in this world but they are not.  God’s ways are not our ways. 

So, how do we seek the Lord?  We can seek the Lord in the Bible.  We can seek the Lord in finding opportunities to learn more about how God calls us to live and why.  We aren’t going to understand everything about God.  We don’t need to but we do need to seek him.

We seek the Lord in what we are doing right now.

We are celebrating the Mass.  Looking at the “how” of the way we worship, I suspect most people here have a pretty good idea of what we do at Mass.  You know when to stand and when to kneel.  You know the proper responses to the priest’s invocation.  You know that we hear readings from the Bible and you know the prayers that go with Communion. 

You know the “what” (i.e. the “how”) but do you know the why?  We can do things without knowing the meaning behind them.  We most truly seek the Lord when we know not just what we do but also the “why.” 

If you know the why, good for you.  If you don’t, this is what the series, Uncovering the Treasures of the Mass, I am starting this week is all about.  I invite anyone with a computer and Internet to join.

I know not everyone has a computer.  God still invites you to seek him.  If you have questions about what we do at Mass, don’t be afraid to ask.

The Lord offers us eternal life in Heaven.  You don’t have to wait till then to receive God’s grace.  Open yourself to the Lord.  Seek the Lord in your lives now.

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