25th Sunday (A) September 24, 2017
Intent of what you say is very important. It does not mean that people who hear it or read it will understand the way you intended it. The more you know about it, the better the chances to know what the intent was.
The USA Today said that over half of all Americans traveling abroad use an app to learn foreign phrases, such as #1 “Hi, I’m Jeremy” (an introduction) to #2 “Where is the restroom! Number 3 is…think, think…#3 is “translations of foreign languages for Match.com” (or other dating services). REALLY?!
So keeping that in mind, what is the intent of Floyd Dean from Altoona and Vince King of this parish when they said to me, “Father, I am going to put you in my will!”
What was really meant was, “Father, I going to leave money to the parish”!
And both did, in substantial amounts.
So keeping that in mind: In this Gospel story today, what is Jesus’ intent? And what is told about God’s intent?
One of the best lines of Jesus that describes his image of God:
ARE YOU ENVIOUS BECAUSE I AM SO GENEROUS?
Did you know what one of the most often-received responses in El Salvador is when we send their kid to school, or provide seed, or pay for medicine? Coming from people who have next to nothing:
“You are being too generous!” REALLY?!
So, a quiz about the Gospel today:
How many think those hired first should have gotten paid more?
How many think that if they agreed on $100 for the day, they should be happy?
How many believe that if a family has two kids—one ten years old, the other two years old—you should love more the one who been in the family the longest?
Or is it the easiest one to get along with?
Jesus is telling a parable to make a point. So what is the point? What is the intent?
Present are leaders, rabbis and Pharisees whose ancestors have been faithful (more or less) for 1200 years—since the law of Moses!
Now these ‘come lately’ followers of Jesus are promised the same salvation!
They were angry: Jesus put outsiders/outcasts/the last to show up for work on the same scale as those who worked hard.
So, you have to look at the intent; the more you know Jesus, the more you can understand his intent!
Many shouted “That isn’t fair!!”—
—Jesus agrees, there is not fairness between God and us…
…if God treated us with fairness, most of us would be in deep trouble.
Jesus shows us WHAT WE DON’T WANT TO BELIEVE
- We don’t earn our relationship with God
- We can’t work our way to eternal life
- We aren’t made worthy by our efforts; we can’t do enough
- With God, everything is gift
That sounds good in church, but we still don’t think it’s fair!
That nice elderly couple next door who lived a great life, were active, generous, pillars of the community…
…they will be paid the same as one of the homeless guys we help, who gets salvation on his death bed? Not fair!!!
Why bother being good? Why bother trying—when you can shape up at the end.
ARE YOU ENVIOUS BECAUSE I AM SO GENEROUS!!!!?
Christian life is not earning our way into life with God.
CHRISTIAN LIFE IS SAYING ‘THANK YOU’ TO GOD FOR HIS GIFT TO YOU AS A HUMAN PERSON, WHO WILLED YOU INTO EXISTENCE!
It is learning and using life skills.
When we recognize his love and gift—the earlier the better—we are filled with gratitude.
We can live our life in response to his goodness.
AND yes, we do have troubles, and some people have tragedy that changes their lives. It is not easy to always be thankful for our life as a gift; there is enough starvation, hunger, and violence in the world from which people don’t feel very gifted.
The elderly couple is already repaid in: happiness…meaning…family…loyalty…thankful hearts.
By not using his gifts, the bum sacrifices all of that—only in the end does he see what that other couple already knows.
Finding that out takes five minutes or a life time; the payment is the greatest ever.
There is no higher bonus to receive over other workers.
When we feel gifted, we can’t look upon those less spiritually fortunate with the eye of judgment. It is with the eye of compassion and empowerment so they see what we see.
How long does it take us to come to, to wake up, to get a life, to experience this great gift that we put off looking elsewhere for happiness??? How long will it take us?
Let’s be thankful then that God waits long for us—and is generous now, tomorrow, and forever!