HOMILY: 25TH SUNDAY HOMILY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A
HOMILY TOPIC: GOD’S GENEROSITY
BY: Fr Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Mt 20:1-16.
Message # 515: “Let Yourselves Be Possessed by His Love”
1. The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother reminds all her children, especially the priests, of the immense love of Jesus for all of them: “How much Jesus loves you!” She enumerated the proofs of this love: the Incarnation, his public mission, his sufferings and death, and most especially the institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Priesthood.
b) Priests are especially chosen by God to share His love to the world through the celebration of the Eucharist: “And you, beloved sons, you are the priests chosen by Him to renew everywhere this, His Sacrifice of the new and eternal Alliance” (letter i).
c) Yet, despite this great privilege and honor, priests are still human. They are weak and prone to sin. And this reality has led so many of them to lose hope and enthusiasm in the ministry. Hence, she implores them earnestly and tenderly: “Let yourselves be possessed by his Love.” She urges them: “Do not be discouraged by your weaknesses; do not count your sins; do not go back over your infidelities” (letter k). Instead, “Open your hearts today to hope, because Jesus loves you. His love overcomes your every human weakness” (letter m).
d) It is only in experiencing the overflowing love of Jesus that priests can also become effective instruments of love: “Let yourselves be possessed by His Love, so that you too may be priests according to his divine and merciful Heart” (letter o). This lesson applies to all of us as well. We ought not to dwell on our sins and failures. God knows how weak we are. So, He pours down upon us His abundant love and mercy. This should inspire us to rise up every time we fall, and to be zealous in sharing this merciful love to others.
2. The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading is a reminder of the mysterious ways God works in our midst: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” Hence, we should strive, not to pursue our personal plans and desires, but to always “seek the Lord while he may be found,” and to “turn to the Lord for mercy.”
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b) The Responsorial Psalm is a song of praise for God’s merciful and loving ways towards us: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness…The Lord is just in all His ways and holy in all His works.”
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c) The second reading is St. Paul’s reflection on the life of a Christian in this world. In his own experience, he is totally dedicated to serve God and fully directed towards heaven. But he is torn between his desire to be with God in heaven and to be with God’s people on earth. He wants to enjoy heaven, but he also need to serve the people in this world. “I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two.” But his life is lived within one basic principle: “For to me, life is Christ, and death is gain.” While still in the world, gazing towards heaven and yearning for eternal joys, our life should always be centered on Christ: “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
d) The Gospel is the parable of the Hired Workers. The owner of the vineyard went out at different times of the day to hire workers for his vineyard. The lesson is not about justice, for the owner fulfilled the contract with those who worked for whole day. Rather, the issue is the owner’s generosity and kindness towards those hired last. This parable is another version of the Prodigal Son and the good thief. These are all stories about God’s boundless love and mercy for sinners and those considered by society as unworthy and undeserving. They show the mysterious vastness of God’s continuous forgiving love.
e) Relation to the Marian Message. The readings have only one theme: God’s boundless and merciful love for sinners. He goes out of His way in order to help and save sinners. This is the good news for us. Our sins are great and terrible. But God’s mercy and love is infinitely greater. As St. Paul said, “Where sin abounds, God’s love abounds all the more.” Hence, the Blessed Mother in her message urges all her children: “Let yourselves be possessed by His love.”
3. Points for Reflection
a) What is most noteworthy of the landowner is the relentless way he goes out to find laborers (five times), his willingness to hire the ‘rejects’, and his desire to pay them a full day’s wage. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like this landowner. The love of heaven takes the initiative in seeking us out. The love of heaven chooses us despite our utter unworthiness. And the love of heaven is lavish in its self-gift to us. To love the kingdom of heaven is to love this landowner and the way he acts. The temptation is for us to measure our life and ‘the way things should be’ by a standard at odds with God. As St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2).
b) Most people think that being rich will make them happy. But that is not true. In fact, most rich people are lonely and insecure. One major reason for this is they are not really loved for who they really are. Almost always, they are loved only because of their money. That is why they are lonely, and also insecure: what happens if I am not anymore rich? Will they still love me? This is something we should think about. Knowing for sure that someone really loves you is enough reason to be happy and secure. The image of a baby in his mother’s arms is a perfect illustration of this. The fact is that God loves us unconditionally. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, God said, “even if a mother forgets her own child, I will not forget you.” This is the good news for us. Knowing for sure that God loves us is enough reason to be happy, peaceful and secure. We have to remind people about this so that they will not anymore be running after the things in this world that do not really satisfy our deepest human longings for peace and happiness.
c) The Jewish people were the Chosen People of God. In the parable, they are the workers who were hired first. On the other hand, the Gentiles came in later. They are the workers who were hired late in the afternoon. God showed equal love for the Jews and Gentiles, for indeed, He is the loving and merciful God for all peoples, for all ages. His love is for everybody, as long as we follow and obey His call. This is shown in the example of the good thief on Calvary. Jesus told him, “This day, you will be with me in paradise.” Let us, therefore, not judge sinners. We hate sin, but love the sinner. And let us not be indignant when we see that others whom we consider less worthy than us seem to enjoy more blessings from God. Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “How God will judge my life I know not, but I trust he will see me with mercy and compassion. I am only certain there will be three surprises in Heaven. First of all, I will see some people whom I never expected to see. Second, there will be a number whom I expect who will not be there. And – even relying on God’s mercy – the biggest surprise of all may be that I will be there.” We should not look at ourselves as better and holier than the others. The holier we are, the more humble, loving, merciful we should become. These are, after all, the qualities of God.
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