Homily for the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time – September 23-24, 2017
After reading: Isaiah 55:6-9; Ps 145; Philippians 1:20-27; Mt 20:1-16
Are we envious of others when we see God’s mercy go out to someone we’d like to see punished? Do we get angry that God forgives those who do wrong?
It’s not up to me to decide who’s going to hell. Or as our parable today puts it, “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?”
Is God not free to do as He wishes with His grace?
God is generous with His forgiveness. He desires that all be saved. But He also gives us free will to choose for ourselves what kind of life we’ll lead and where we’ll go for eternity.
He offers us truth. He offers us revelation. He offers us salvation. But He leaves it in our hands whether we’ll answer that call or go our own way.
When you hear this parable, don’t assume that you’re the one who went to work in the fields early in the morning, because, it’s probably a lot closer to the end of the day than you think.
But, Christ tells us that it’s never too late to come to the fields of the Lord. Don’t ever think that the things you’ve done are too great to be forgiven. God calls us throughout our lives. He never writes us off as lost.
There was a boy, who as a teenager was known to steal fruit from the neighbor’s tree just for the thrill of stealing. As a young adult, he moved in with his girlfriend without getting married. His mother was a faithful Catholic, and continued to pray that her son would find the truth of God. That’s the blessing of parents. They’re called to offer their prayers even when their advice isn’t taken. But, this young man got involved in some cultish religions outside of Christianity.
It wasn’t until he had a child of his own, that he understood what he’d missed as a child. It wasn’t until he was 32 that he was baptized, and he turned his life around. He asked for forgiveness, and he began devoting himself to working in the field of the Lord. Augustine became a priest, and a bishop, and one of the greatest theologians in the church.
And as he reflected back on that time of coming to allow Christ to mean something in his life, St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions,
“I have learned to love you late,
Beauty at once so ancient and so new!
I have learned to love you late!
You were within me,
and I was in the world outside myself
and disfigured as I was,
I fell upon the lovely things of your creation.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
The beautiful things of this world kept me far from you,
and yet, if they had not been in you,
they would have had no being at all.
You called me;
you cried aloud to me;
you broke my deafness.
You shone upon me;
your radiance enveloped me;
you put my blindness to flight.
You shed your fragrance about me;
I drew breath and now I gasp for your sweet odour.
I tasted you,
and now I hunger and thirst for you.
You touched me,
and I am inflamed with love of your peace.”
St. Augustine learned to look beyond the things of this world, to see their beauty as a sign of a deeper goodness in God. To go beyond the sensual, to the sense of God. And once he experienced the presence of God in his life, he realized that this was where he’d find true happiness. The kind of happiness that doesn’t just last a short time here, but lasts forever in heaven.
God offers that same grace to everyone, to everyone who’s struggled with the pleasures of this world in the morning of their life, to everyone who spent their afternoon thinking they’d find happiness in something that just passes away. And God invites us to turn to Him in prayer even in the evening of our lives, to sense His presence; to turn to Him in reconciliation and know His forgiveness.
As the prophet tells us today: “let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.”
Why stand in the marketplace idle all day? Experience the loving forgiveness of God. Answer the call, and join the work of Christ in the fields of the Lord.