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Homily for Sunday, 18 September 2011

25th Sunday: Is 55:6-9. Phil 1:20-24, 27. Mt 20:1-16.

The Gospel this Sunday is of the workers in the vineyard and the way some are upset by the way others get paid.

It's a call to be united with all our brothers and sisters and appreciate that it's not for us to judge others and we should appreciate how God pays us all beyond what we deserve. He gives us air to breathe… every day! God gives us all a role in this 'vineyard' called planet earth, and hopefully we'll be rewarded with a fantastic eternal paradise. The fact that the ones who had worked all-day grumble about the fact that the late-comers also get well-paid, is actually a sign of how they themselves really need the healing of Christ... of our God of mercy.

Some of the workers get envious today, but if we're on the road with Christ, then envy ceases to exist. In fact the thing that will increase the joy of Heaven for us, will be to see as many brothers and sisters as possible making it there with us. Jesus speaks of workers receiving the 'agreed wage', but he's speaking today for people in a world which sees payment as a matter of euros, dollars and yen. The fundamental call of the Gospel is to live in a 'different world' - a world of love - where the 'agreed wage' simply couldn't be any better.

If envy or jealousy still affect us then that's a sure sign that we haven't realy understood the Gospel. How could we possibly want more than the maximum? It would mean that we haven't come to realise what that maximum is. We can't describe it in terms of mundane riches, but we can say like saint Paul today: "I'd just as rather be dead as alive"! In fact, if it's heaven that's in store, then it will be great to be dead, but Paul makes the essential point: there's still fruitful labor to be done here (Phil 1:22).

Being faithful in doing that labor, is precisely what will put us on the, lift to heaven (as Teresa of Lisieux wrote). So is life now just about suffering patiently - as we wait for Life with God? No way! It's about rejoicing in anticipation now… and helping others to get there too. Eternal life with God is something that we can all live today! If that sounds strange, then I wish I was more strange! Being really born to that Life, has challenges that can obstruct the 'birth canal', but God allows them to challenge us, because the fact that we've had to overcome them, will be our joy in the end. It's hard to picture the end of the journey from here, but we can if we have faith. Please, Lord, increase my faith! Please, Dad, give us a hand!

Our good friend is recommending today that we all respect each other and seek what can unite us - and can reunite us time after time. Every single one of us makes mistakes in life (only one of the family was conceived without sin - Mary). But we can all be reborn like her!

Jesus says "This is my body - this is my blood". Just like the owner of the vineyard in the Gospel, Jesus refers to you and I as 'my friend'. That increases my faith! I'm in a wheelchair, but thanks a million for the 'usual daily wage' that you give Lord!


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