Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Father Pete
September 24th, 2023 - 8:30 AM
It’s just not fair! Those who worked all day in the hot sun deserve at least a bonus but certainly not the same amount as those latecomers. How many of us would get offended if we did not get our bonus or our raise? After all, we deserve it.
In the gospel, Jesus tells a parable, and it is meant to teach us about the kingdom of God. What really bothers some people is that God equally rewards latecomers and newcomers. So in relation to the kingdom of God, we ask the question “Is it fair that we, the hard-working Christians, are going to be treated like these workers? Is the man who lives a life of sin but who converts on his deathbed going to get the same reward that we receive? Surely, we must warrant at least a higher ranking in heaven maybe even on a cloud with one of the saints!” But the parable tells us that our Heavenly reward is not something we can “earn” because it is a free gift from God who has made His rewards available to all who choose to receive His Gift of Faith in Christ Jesus.
Some people have the mentality that you have to work in order to receive the reward of eternal life. The Gospel tells us that it’s never too late for God. A full wage is offered to each of us, whether one has served Him for a whole lifetime, or has turned to Him only at the eleventh hour. This story of the landlord’s love and generosity represents God’s love and generosity to us. The story shows us how God looks at us, sees our needs, and meets those needs. The question in God’s mind is not, “How much do these people deserve?” but “How can I help them? How can I assist them in flourishing?” It is all about grace, God’s unmerited free gifts.
Another thing that Jesus challenges in the gospel parable today is the attitude of entitlement. We who grew up in a capitalist society think in terms of that economy where competition and profit are valued. In the spiritual realm or the the kingdom of God that Jesus teaches about, those values of competition and making profit are not a part of it. Entitlement is the attitude that I worked for it, therefore, I deserve it. I am entitled to my wealth. Or an entitled attitude that I have been here longer in this parish than anyone else, so I deserve privileges over those who are newcomers. I truly have not seen that here and I hope it does not exist, but I have encountered that attitude of entitlement in Christian communities. It’s not pleasant. Jesus wants us to realize that God is generous with everyone and that we should try to be like God through our generosity.
It’s one thing to recognize that God is generous … And it’s another thing to want to imitate God and become more like Jesus Christ who is God. When we think and act with the values that the parable teaches, everyone is a candidate for our love and generosity just like all of us are candidates or recipients of God’s love and generosity.
Finally, the landowner asked.… ‘Are you envious because I am generous?'If we are honest, sometimes we are envious or jealous of other people. So, what are the spiritual practices that can help us work on our jealousy or our attitude of entitlement?
The first is to constantly practice gratitude. Say prayers thanking God for everything that you have because everything is a gift from God even if it is not everything that we feel that we want or even deserve.
The second spiritual practice is to consciously be generous to others…especially when you judge that they do not deserve it.
And the third spiritual practice is to catch yourself when you feel jealous. Acknowledge your envy and return to spiritual practice number one which is to say a prayer of gratitude for what you do have.
I conclude and summarize with one of the preface prayers from the mass which says to God: You have no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank you is itself your gift. Our prayer of thanksgiving adds nothing to your greatness, but makes us grow in holiness” Amen.