25th Sunday Ordinary Time – September 18, 2011

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time – September 18, 2011

In the Gospel of Matthew, when did the landowner go out to hire workers? The landowner went out at dawn.  What time did he need to get out of bed?  What time of day does dawn occur?  Dawn is the time when sun light first begins to break over the horizon.  Deer hunters know dawn occurs thirty minutes before the sun actually peeks over the horizon from the east.

Dawn is also a term we use to describe the moment there is sufficient intellectual understanding / light so one can see.  Could it be Jesus is teaching His disciples and followers with this parable to give them the spiritual light they need to understand the point of this gospel!  How about you and I?

One of the realities is our human, social, political and even religious experience is they often serve as automatic emotional stumbling blocks, rather than receptors for spiritual insight and truth.

Individual rights, the idea of basic human fairness, the usual daily wage, fair pay, workers and union’s rights, equality of race, gender, and age can all capture and sometimes hijack our ability to listen with an open heart and mind.  How do we sort through the tsunami of images and sound bits of crises of human social and economic images being streamed at us at “4G” force 24/7 in our world of 2011?

How we counter act, the worlds cry to unsettle and over power us with artificial crises and hidden agendas.  Sometimes, we just need to sit down, open our mind, spirit and soul and pray for the graces we need to achieve spiritual insight!

Today’s Gospel provides such insight.  Jesus addresses an audience beyond the community of his disciples – an audience opposed to Jesus himself.  A community upset, because of his open and public reception of the “scoundrels, tax collectors and sinners” from all walks of life.

Jesus teaches using parables.  He does so because parables rob the listener of the ability to create an opposing argument while Jesus is still teaching.  The listener is not only forced to listen but must digest the message before sufficient understanding can occur for one to begin to express an opinion for or against.  The human process of digesting parables provides the spirit of truth a window of opportunity to penetrate ones soul.

This is a moment of truth for you and I!

Jesus cannot be locked up and kept in a limited human created and conceived convenient box by religious or civil authority.  As for me – Silly me, in the past I discovered I had locked Jesus up in my own conceived box without the benefit of the wisdom to know our God is a Big God and escaped before I could close the lid.

Jesus telling us this story to open us up?  When the work day is done, the land owner turns the tables on us and pays the last hired first and finally the first are the last paid.  What did the land owner pay them?  Each received the usual daily wage.  Each received a denarius or enough!  The land owner provided what the world considered the exact amount to satisfy the worth, dignity, shelter, sustenance of each laborer.

But what is this story really about?  Isaiah says my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways.  As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts, says the Lord.  This wage they received must have communicated much a higher meaning.

What is the just and usual wage Jesus is teaching about.  Each receives enough – enough to meet their needs – enough to fill them full – light sustaining enough.

Each and everyday we enter a spiritual market place with the opportunity to work in the vineyard.  But most of the time we are like the laborers in the story – we are idle for some reason and perhaps even unaware of the vineyard that surrounds us.

Like the laborers, we are waiting upon the lord to supply us with what we need to survive each day.  But what is the ingredient we need?  Grace?  The good news is God’s grace is always available.  The good news is God’s grace is always enough.  The good news is it doesn’t matter if we decide early or late his grace is enough to save us.  The good news is God’s grace is enough for those who had been righteous all their lives and enough for the scoundrels and wicked who messed up their lives completely.

The great news in this story is, each of us live in this market place and can step into the vineyard without moving our feet.  All that is required is an open heart!  The vineyard is connected to the location we inhabit no matter where we go!  This is the message of hope all us long for!  No matter how lowly we think we are, how wicked we may have been or untrustworthy or even been a scoundrel there is hope for us.  If we have fallen, crashed and burned there is hope for us!

People of God, we call this hope God Grace!  It is everywhere and it is free!

To obtain Salvation the objective is to be last — Listen to the reading from Isaiah.

Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.

Note did we hear the scoundrel and the wicked were called to seek the Lord.  Are they the ones we would think of first?  Now is the time while the Lord is near.  Turn to the Lord for mercy!  God does not act according to human standards, ways or thinking!

God does not work on a rights or deserts scale, but simply on loving scale because that is what is at the heart of God’s being.  We are each called to open your hearts, enter the vineyard with confidence, where God will provide enough to each, so we can be a light unto a world in desperate need of an encounter with love.

Have we locked God in a Box?  And if we have, will be let Him escape?

It is not merely the time that we put in. It is the heart that we put into the time we have.

In God’s kingdom people are treated according to their spiritual needs, not according to their deserts.  People are treated with love regardless of their status or time they show up.

God does not work on a rights or deserts scale, but simply on loving scale because that is what is at the heart of God’s being.  We are each called to open your hearts, enter the vineyard with confidence, where God will provide enough to each, so we can be a light unto a world in desperate need of an encounter with love.

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