Homily Twenty-fifth Sunday Year A God's generosity

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Homily: Twenty-fifth Sunday Year A


Reading 1: This reading speaks of an obvious mystery. Have you ever wondered, can God forgive me of my sins after all I have done? How could God forgive the terrorists or the abortionists or the serial murderers? The answers are beyond me. God’s ways and God’s thoughts are beyond our understanding. At the same time, we are to seek him and to call to him, even though we cannot begin to comprehend the plan of God, the love of God, the infinite mercy and forgiveness of God.


He chooses the foolish and confounds the wise; the weak to confound the strong. Of all the nations of the earth he chose Israel to be his chosen people. Of the seven sons of Jesse, he chose David, the youngest. He chose to become man. He chose to be born in a stable in Bethlehem, the least of the town of Judah. He chose to save us from our sins through the cross. We cannot make logical sense of God’s ways, because they flow not from the human process but the divine process of his loving being.


We are told by the prophet to seek the Lord; call to him; turn away from sin and turn back to God who is generous in forgiving. This word, generous, is key to the Gospel.


Gospel: Human beings demand justice towards themselves when it is to their advantage versus God’s extravagant mercy, which is given to all. It is good to be just versus unjust, but better to be merciful and generous.


Last week we heard the response of Jesus to Peter: forgive not 7 x 7 but 70x70. We are to both receive and acknowledge God’s mercy as well as extend mercy. Last Sunday the master forgave the larger debt of his servant, but the servant would not show the same mercy to another servant who owed him a much smaller fraction.


Here the invitation to work in the field is a grace/gift and the wage was a gift. Yes, the workers responded. But the gift was from the owner to the others was complained against because they saw that they were owed more than the one who work less.


God’s ways are mysterious. He is just and merciful. We judge according to human standards of justice or expectations. He who does more should receive more. Salvation is not something we earn or gain, but a gift we receive from the bounteous goodness of God.


In Jesus’time, the Pharisees and Scribes could not understand or accept that pubic sinners, such as prostitutes and tax collectors, could be saved. These Jewish religious leaders could not accept that pagan believers could be saved without becoming circumcised and following the Mosaic Laws.


On the human side, people who worked longer and harder should be paid more than someone who worked only one hour. From God’s perspective salvation is a gift from him. He determines the rules, if you will. God’s ways are not our ways. If he wishes to grant salvation to the thief on the cross at the last moment of his life, who am I to object. He received the mercy of God as I received the mercy of God. We can’t be presumptuous over God’s mercy and forgiveness. We have to be willing to respond at the moment.


We want mercy for ourselves but not others. What the men who worked all day wanted was justice and they got justice. Had they rejoiced in the mercy shown to others, they would have received mercy as well. Do we want to be judged with the blind scale of justice or by the generous scale of God’s mercy? The measure with which we measure will be measured back to us.


Reading 2: Paul was so in love and so committed to Jesus as the Lord of his life that he desired to die and be with his Lord. What he wanted to do was to please Jesus whether in life or in death. He did not fear death, but saw it as the final moment before seeing and being with Jesus eternally. At the same time, he knew that if he continued to live, he would be doing what God wanted him to do, namely to proclaim the Good News of salvation to others. Whether he lived or died he belonged to Christ. All he wanted was to be and do the will of Jesus.


His final statement is a haunting challenge for us. Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of God. Live as Jesus has called us to live. Have we gotten there yet? Am I conscious of magnifying Christ in my body, so that whether I live or die, it makes no difference, as long as I am glorifying Christ?

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