Homily for the twenty-fifth Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 20:1-16
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus said to his disciples: «The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.'
" «And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'
" «So the last will be first, and the first last.» "
"Jesus said to his disciples: «The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.» "
When Jesus tells this parable, he is about to resurrect his friend Lazarus: Jesus is only a few days or weeks away from his Passion and Resurrection... He will soon die and leave this earth... And yet, Jesus had spent only three years preaching, and his disciples were but a handful... Compared to many of those who would succeed him, Jesus had spent little time preaching the gospel, and he had few disciples during his terrestrial life... However, he alone is the one who would receive for his works all of his Father's Glory: "I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made." (Jn. 17:4-5)
When we judge things, we do so in a human manner: how could we do otherwise? But when God judges, he does so in his own manner, that is, in a divine manner. Now, in order to judge, one needs a reference point, a point of comparison; and, for God, that reference point is himself. As God is Love (cf. 1 Jn. 4:16), the reference point that God uses in judging is Love! This is what led Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus to say: "In the evening of this life, I will be judged on love." Consequently, when the Father had judged the works of his Son on earth, all that he had seen was Love, that Love that is God himself, that infinite, boundless Love, that Love of Jesus which almost went to the point of folly, the folly of the Cross (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18)!
The context in which Jesus tells us this parable already clarifies the story quite well: it matters little what you have done, or how much you have worked, all that counts is the love you have manifested in accomplishing what I have ordered you to do. For, in this entire parable, it is never a question of workers who were looking for work: on the contrary, it is the owner of the vineyard who goes out looking for workers, it is he who, each time, orders the workers to go work in his vineyard! Doing the Will of God, doing the Will of God with love, doing the Will of God even for a single hour of work: this is what counts in the eyes of the Lord, the Judge of Heaven and Earth!
" «Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?» "
This sentence, applied to God, has disturbed more than a few people... But if this sentence disturbs us, it is because we lack humility... Let us look at Mary: she is without stain, purer than any purity will ever be! And yet, Jesus chose men and not women to be his priests and successors in the priesthood. Why did he not choose Mary, who, due to her purity and sanctity, may have better served the Lord in his priesthood? But he did not. Christ, through his free will and in his infinite wisdom, chose men to be priests, to the exclusion of every woman... And Mary never took offense at this, for her humility preserved her from such a disorder... It is the same for all the gifts God grants to men: God acts freely, doing whatever he pleases.
" «So the last will be first, and the first last.» "
What beautiful words for our time! The author of the Imitation of Christ expressed a similar thought in the following way: "Do not believe yourself better than others, for fear that God, who knows the inner man, might see you as the worst of all. Have no vanity in your good works, for the judgements of God are quite different from those of men, and he often condemns what they approve. If you recognize in yourself a few good qualities, believe that others have better ones; and by this means you will preserve your humility. You will lose nothing by placing yourself below others; you will lose all if your prefer yourself to even one other." (First book, chapter seven)
In approaching the Eucharistic Table, let us have a spirit of humility: let us look at the Lord who comes to us to serve us, and let us offer ourselves to him to do his Will in all things! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us and prepare our heart to receive the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings! Through Her, with Her, and for Her, may we be but a single heart and a single soul in Jesus! Amen!
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