The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard…“Are you envious because I am generous?”
A married woman of five recently told me, “Father, if I have another child, my mother will disown me!” I told the young lady to tell her mother, “Are you envious of me because I am generous?
A young married College graduate came up to me and told me that her family thinks she is nuts for staying home and raising and homeschooling her kids. I told her to tell her family, “Are you envious of me because I am generous with my family?”
The Lord said to me, “When will you start working for me? When will you start giving me your time and talents? Invest your 1% of faith in me and watch it grow! When will you stop being so idle, useless and boring towards me and my Kingdom? Come work for me! Give me a hand! Follow me and you’ll be living your life in a way you never dreamed of living, for my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways! What I give, no one else could ever give.
The landowner went out five times during the day to hire workers. Five times he sought out workers to come follow him. What is worth noting in today’s Gospel passage are the following ideas.
I AM Insistent and Persistent. The Lord goes out of his way looking for me. Yes, for me! He is not looking for the best workers. He is looking for me! The kingdom of heaven is God hounding me…looking for me! He wants me to work for him. He will not stop. He will not hesitate, and He will not be unjust. He will be generous, merciful, compassionate and loving. How many times during the day does he call me to accept his hand, his offering? How have I conducted myself? Have I come to accept His generous offer? Those who confess their sins know the answer! They know that in this world, there is no one like the Lord! We don’t find anyone like this. Three strikes and you’re still no out! But this is what we know; this is what we have grown accustomed to hearing: “Get out of my house!” “Get out of my life!” “I don’t want anything to do with you.” “I hate you!” “I don’t love you anymore.”
I Take The Initiative. It is all God’s doing. He takes the initiative. God himself stripped himself to come down to us, to be with us and to share his words and life with us in order to convince us that His kingdom is not made of stone, but made of human flesh. It is made of us! We, who were fashioned out of his hands and out of his love, are what his kingdom is made of.
I AM Generous. The Lord pays generously, regardless of the number of years spent in service to him. This is a very hard saying. Who can accept this? If this is the case, then it is so tempting to say, “I will wait until the last moment to serve the Lord.” But take it from me, as a priest, I have no problem showing mercy and compassion to the convert, to the revert, to the sinner who wishes to be a Saint! Those who have received God’s mercy understand these words! Of course this will always be a scandal for the self-righteous, the hard hearted, and appear foolishness to the skeptics and doubters. But it is all true! And those who have experienced God’s mercy will be the first to testify to it and to their unworthiness. They will also testify that the nightmares of their rebellion haunted them for years! What they were waiting for was a Holy God, and what they got was what they sought: Christ Jesus!
Say Yes! The problem with those who knock God, Heaven, Forgiveness, etc…is an old problem. It is the dilemma of trying to understand something before trying it! Those who insist that we cannot live life like this are measuring things according to their standard, and not of the other. It is very Christian to show mercy and compassion. The problem is that it is still very rare! But when we see it, when we witness it, it is powerful – all powerful! It is amazing – all-mighty! It is life-changing – like rising from the dead! Recently, a funeral home director told me her mother was taking care of her bedridden father. I told her, “Oh, how nice.” She looked at me and told me, “Father, my dad left my mom twenty years ago for a woman half his age. He broke my mother’s heart. But when he got sick, there was no one there to take care of him, so she decided to do it herself. She has always served the Lord. She is truly a Saint.”
Indeed she is, and for many of us, this would be ridiculous. But the answer is clear for all to see: I am jealous of her generosity!
Follow the Lord always and in all his Ways!