Homily, Ordinary Time Sunday 25A
“Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17). Many of us, when we think of the parable in today’s Gospel, of the workers in the vineyard, those working just one hour receiving the same wage as those who worked all day, our immediate reaction can tend to be, that’s not fair. Maybe we think of ourselves as those who have worked all day, those who have tried to be faithful to God throughout our lives and have borne the burden of God’s law from our youth. I’m a cradle Catholic, but when I read this parable in the context of all of salvation history, including the Old Testament, I can only ever see myself as one of the workers hired in the final hour.
Just think of so many Saints and Prophets who lived in the Old Testament, who bore the heat of the day and the brunt of the work, who hoped in God with perseverance without seeing that hope fulfilled in their own lifetimes. Think of Abraham, who at the age of 75 packed up everything he had, to come out of retirement, to walk those 500 miles and journey to a strange land. And for what? To continue wandering, even to the day of his death, as a stranger and alien in the Promised Land, acquiring only a small parcel as a burial ground. But “you are no longer strangers and wanderers. You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” with heaven itself as your inheritance (Ephesians 2:19).
Think of Moses who led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt, who put up with God’s people for their forty years of wandering in the desert, and their almost constant desire to return to Egypt, to submit once more to the slavery from which God had freed them at so high a cost. What reward did Moses receive for his labors? He was allowed to catch a glimpse of the Promised Land from across the Jordan, but he would die before entering in. He was among those who ate the manna in the wilderness, that bread from heaven, but still died. But you have been ransomed, not from slavery to Pharoah, but from slavery to sin and Satan, not with the blood of lambs or goats, but by the Precious Blood of the sinless Son of God. And you are given to eat of the true Bread from heaven, the very Flesh of God, who gives unending life to those who feed on Him.
“Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17). What have we done to deserve any of God’s blessings, to deserve the fullness of God’s blessings poured out for us at every Mass upon the altar? More than any of the Patriarchs could ever have imagined, we consume Jesus Christ, God’s own Son in the Flesh. There is nothing more that God can give, because He gives us everything in the One who sustains all things in existence. And what have we done to deserve anything from God? We have hardly begun to work, even in this final hour.
If we’re still hoping for something more from God, something more than His own Son in the Flesh, we need to get a clue. If Jesus Christ is not enough for us, if the Messiah that no one in the Old Testament would have dared to ask for, is not enough for us, “if we have hoped in Christ for this life only, we are the most pathetic of all people” (1 Corinthians 15:19). But if God has truly given us everything, in giving us His own Son in the Flesh, if we have received the same wage as all the Saints of the Old Testament, and received it first, then God deserves everything in return. Why do we still hold back? Why do still fail to trust in our Father who loves us? Why do we still rebel against the gentle yoke of Jesus Christ and the laws of God that are not burdensome but actually set us free? In this final hour, God continues to invite us to become His friends and His coworkers. Why do we still hesitate and stand idle? We will not get another chance. Now is the time to begin.