FROM THE PULPIT
Mother Theresa when she visited the many convents that she had founded, even though she was the Superior General of the Order, she had a habit of getting up early on the last day of her visit (early being 4:00am or so), and washing the convent's bathrooms before the rest of the nuns woke up.
Fr Sebastian Vahakala, a priest connected to her Order, explains how he learned Christian generosity from her: "One day I was working at the home for the dying in Kalighat, Calcutta. "The Corporation Ambulance brought in a man. I looked at him and recognized him straightaway, as he had been to our home several times. "So I told Blessed Teresa that there was no sense in taking him in again, as he would go out when he might feel a little better [he was taking advantage of their generosity.] "Blessed Teresa looked at me and said: ‘Brother Sebastian, does this man need your help now or not? It does not matter that he was here yesterday or not, or that he is going to come back again tomorrow. We do not have yesterday any more, nor do we have tomorrow yet; all that we have is today to love God and serve the poor.'" That's just a little glimpse of the kind of supernatural generosity that continuously overflows from God's heart, towards each and every one of us.
Many people scratch their heads when they hear about the parable from the gospel this evening/morning. How can a person come in later in the day and receive the same wages as the person that has worked a full day? Yes, in our society we compensate people on their experience, hours put in, etc. but God works differently but treats us with superabundant generosity.
This parable focuses on God’s ways and his justice: what God offers is not a wage as employers would offer but salvation is the same for everyone. The surprising factor of this parable is that it’s not earned at all but it’s God’s gift to us and he offers it generously.
So if we come to God early on in life or later in life salvation still awaits us. All we have to do is accept the invitation. Retributive justice (“an eye for an eye”) and distributive justice (give all their due share) have their place in the kingdom, especially in our dealings with one another. We heard in the Responsorial Psalm, “The Lord is just in all his ways.” God’s justice is not a matter of morality but it is a matter of righteousness and relationship. God’s generosity can never be measured by our human standards and we are very thankful for that. What we should receive from the message of this parable is that the generosity of God is to grant us salvation something that we never deserve but are given because of his holiness and ways above our ways.
In the second reading from St. Paul we hear about his passion for Christ. Today, we can all ask ourselves if we share St Paul's passion for Christ, if we share his eager desire to be with Christ forever in heaven. Every week at Mass, right after the Our Father, the priest prays on behalf of the people: "...protect us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior..." St Paul was waiting with joyful hope. Are we? We should be. Jesus wants us to. He has revealed to us that our efforts to follow him are not in vain - we, like the workers in today's Gospel parable, will be rewarded for our fidelity.
One reason that the Church forbids us from doing unnecessary work on Sundays and encourages us to spend time not only in worship, but also serving our neighbor and relaxing with friends and family is precisely so that we can keep this "joyful hope" fresh. During the week, we are so busy, so engaged in our earthly work, which is good and necessary, that sometimes our fire of joyful hope burns low.
On Sundays, we need to add wood to that fire, reminding ourselves that all we do has a purpose, that our lives have a glorious, indescribably fulfilling destination. In this Mass, as Jesus renews his promise to prepare a place for us in his Father's house, let's renew our faith in him. And when we receive him in Holy Communion, let's turn our hearts towards heaven, savoring now the joy we hope to experience later. And let's spend the rest of the day continuing to savor it, and helping those around us savor it, turning our Sundays into little heavens on earth. That will get us ready to live the rest of the week with courage, conducting ourselves, as St Paul described it, "in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ."