The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Homily
I was speaking this week to our Religious Education 5th Grade class about today’s Scripture readings. They had some interesting insights concerning the Parable of the Generous Landowner.
- Can God be “not fair” and also be generous at the same time?
- He gave them all work.
- He paid them all.
- The deal must have been ok since they all agreed to get paid the same amount.
- Perhaps it just depends on how you look at things.
How do you look at things? What’s your view? Or perhaps more important, WHY do you think that way?
Consider the following situations:
When I taught high school, I noticed that, at the end of the grading period, many students would calculate: “How little can I study and still get a “B” so that my parents will leave me alone or maybe even praise me?”
Students would ask, “How late can I arrive” and “how early can I leave” so that Mass “still counts?”
“Father, when I’m on a date with my girlfriend, how far can I go before I absolutely HAVE TO go to Confession?”
Thomas Aquinas didn’t have the type of philosophy needed to address the questions of sophomores.
It would seem like we’re having a discussion of Capacity and Criticism. We judge people based on our idea of what they could do versus what they are actually doing. We think that they could be doing so much more, hitting the high bar, striving for excellence.
Maybe the 8-hour workers didn’t work as hard as the others so they didn’t deserve to get paid more.
Maybe the owner offered each only the amount of work that they could handle.
Maybe the owner was testing those who worked longer to see if they could handle it so he could give them more to do and then pay them more money.
Maybe the woman arriving late was visiting another mother whose teen age son was picked up last night on a DUI. She felt that a few more minutes with that mom was more necessary that arriving at church “on time.”
Maybe the husband leaving early is going home to a wife suffering from cancer treatments.
Instead of Capacity and Criticism, is the conversation perhaps about planks and perspective?
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? … First, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” says the LORD.
The challenge can be found in the first reading from Isaiah 55: “Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.”
And God doesn’t necessarily want us to be beating up on ourselves because we are just terrible people who are constantly judging others. That’s just turning the criticism on ourselves instead of others. That’s not from the Lord, that’s from the powers of darkness. We can instead use this opportunity to begin a conversation with the Lord on why we seem to want to judge others?
- Is it frustrated idealism?
- Is it to exercise a sense of control?
- Is it pride that we feel we can do it better?
- Is it a lost sense of hope that we are not letting the Lord handle the situation?
This is a deeper conversation that the Lord would like to have with us because there is something spiritually deep in us about which he would like to have a conversation. There is something spiritually deep in us that the Lord would like to touch and heal and redeem. So ask the Lord to take the plank out of your own eye so you can, above all, see the Son and let his healing radiance shine upon you.
An audio version of the homily is here: