A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 9/24/17 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
The part of this Gospel that drives home its message for us, is the fact that some of these laborers had worked in the hot sun, in day’s heat, for several hours more, then the ones that were hired last. Have you ever worked in the day’s heat? It’s not much fun. Putting a new roof on in the middle of July, paving a road or a parking lot with hot asphalt in August, cutting grass and trimming trees and scrubs anytime in the summer, pouring concrete, detasseling corn, doing landscape work, washing cars, doing construction, we could all make our lists of jobs that are a lot harder to do, outside in the heat of the summer. Really days like today, when it is hot out there for the end of September! If you’ve ever worked any of these jobs, you know difficult it can be, and how the hours can seem to go on forever. When you’re working in the hot sun, and the humidity of an Indiana summer, eight hours of work can seem to go on forever!
I know about this from personal experience. As some of you know, when I was in high school and college, and even into seminary training, I used to work for my Father building swimming pools. And you don’t build swimming pools in cool weather. You build pools when everybody wants a swimming pool, and that’s in the heat of the summer. And this, I’m pretty sure of, is where I learned my love of being really warm. You see, when you work in the bottom of a pool, without the water, there’s no air circulating. There’s no breeze. Then we used to have these shiny stainless steel panels that reflected the sun, and then there’s the lime from the wet concrete, and it all made for some very hot working conditions. I used to be able to pour sweat out of my work boots. Not fun. Not fun at all. Being a priest is a piece of cake, compared to building swimming pools.
So we kinda get what these workers must have felt like, working all day in the heat of a Palestinian summer! You don’t have to be Caesar Chavez, to realize that there’s a little bit of a justice issue, when you’re paying the person that worked for one hour in the heat, the exact same as you pay the person that worked for eight hours in hot sun. If this landowner keeps this up, he’s not going to have anybody want to work for him. They’ll all just come at the end of the day.
Now remember, Jesus is using this parable to explain to us, what God, His Father, is like. Jesus describes His Father, and our Father, as a very generous God! We are called to accept God’s great generosity and kindness, and to realize that none of us, did you hear that? NONE OF US are worthy of it. In the parable today, we are NOT the ones who have worked in the sun and heat all day for eight or nine hours. Instead, we are all those lazy folks, who just got up in the middle of the afternoon, walked out to the public square, and got hired for just one hour of work! We are NOT deserving of God’s generosity. None of us are. We have done nothing to earn this. We can do nothing to make God treat us this way. Our God is good to everybody! To those who have worked all day, and those who have worked for only an hour, to those who have worked hard, and to those who are lazy, to those who like the heat, and to those who hate the heat, God is generous to all! It doesn’t matter who we are, God calls and invites all of us to His generosity!
Our God is much like this landowner! He is generous in forgiving, as Isaiah points out in our first reading today. We owe God a debt, that we can’t repay. The Lord doesn’t charge some more than others. He sent His Son to die for all of us. God owes us nothing. And yet, God has given us everything.
All the men called to work in the vineyard, whether they worked for eight hours or one hour, had one thing in common: they all had hungry mouths to feed. The landowner had really had mercy on them all, giving them what they needed, NOT what they had earned. This is a beautiful description of how much our God has loved all of us, in Christ. We are called upon to be as giving and forgiving of others, as God has been to us! God loves all of us, His children. He loves the sinner as much as the saint, the cradle Catholic as much as the convert, those who can sing as much as those who can’t sing, and those who like the heat, as much as those who hate being hot.
As we labor in the vineyard of the Lord, let us conduct ourselves according to His mercy and generosity, in a way that is worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
+ And may God bless us all, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!