I. Homily – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 21, 2014
II. The landowner loved His vineyard.
A. Clearly, he worked hard to make sure His vineyard was well tended and would produce much fruit. He spent the entire day going back and forth getting more and more workers…
B. …but, the landowner also loved His workers and even those who did not yet work for Him.
1. How do we know this?
2. Because He had more workers than He needed…He was not only determined to get enough workers to accomplish the task but he also made what, at first seemed a terrible business decision…, He also wanted to employ everyone He could find in His vineyard.
3. So…He employed all those that would follow Him, whether He needed them or not…
III. The fact that the landowner wants to hire everyone and not just those He needs is not the only questionable business practice.
A. The workers also make a questionable business decision.
B. Although the first workers agree to work for the usual daily wage, the rest of the workers are told “to go work in His vineyard and He will pay them what is just.”
C. The workers go into the vineyard to work without knowing what their pay will be…
D. The workers are invited to trust the landowner upon their first meeting.
IV. Now, even though the landowner loves His workers in the vineyard, the landowner intentionally creates a tension between Himself and His workers.
A. He does something even though He knows will anger His workers. He does something, because He knows it will challenge their assumptions.
B. One commentator describes the actions of the landowner as an “apparent injustice leading to revolt” in order to describe the rage of the workers.
C. We know the landowner’s actions are intentional, because He begins with those who have worked the lesser part of the day and ends with those who have worked all day.
D. What He does…, He does in order to make them think about what His real intention is…and He wants them to think differently and He knows the only way He will get them to think differently is if He does something that grabs their attention…something that actually angers them…
E. What this demonstrates is that the landowner is not only concerned about the tasks His workers are accomplishing for Him. The landowner is also concerned about their interior state…He is concerned about how they think and what motivates their lives…He is concerned about something more than their here and now…
V. So, WHO IS this landowner that wants to employ everyone who will follow His command to go work in His vineyard? Who is this landowner concerned not only with labor but the interior life of His workers?
A. I think we have all made a presumption of His identity which is probably accurate, but the way the Gospel writer reveals His identity also teaches us…
B. The Gospel writer makes a little change in the way he refers to this landowner giving us an indication of whom He is. The indication of who the landowner is, you cannot find in our English Translation…it is only found in the Greek.
1. For the first half of the reading the owner of the vineyard is called “the landowner.”
2. However, when the landowner tells His foreman to begin handing out the payments to the workers, the Gospel writer calls the “Landowner” for the first time…”Kurios”…”Lord”.
3. This “landowner” is not just any landowner. He is the Lord, Almighty God, but His identity is not revealed until it is time for the payment…prior to this revelation it required the workers to make an act of faith and trust.
VI. Therefore, if the landowner is someone far greater than simply a landowner, the Gospel writer also wants us to realize that the payment He gives through the hand of His foreman is not just the usual daily wage…the payment is something far greater…the payment is, in fact, something that defies measurement…the usual daily wage is actually “eternal happiness.” The “Lord” gives each of those who faithful work in His vineyard…eternity with Him in His vineyard…He gives them eternal joy with Him.
A. Here is the rub:
1. Just as the landowner is not just a landowner and the daily wage is not just a daily wage…so too…the workers on just workers are they?
2. Jesus is challenging us, you and me, to think differently and to emulate Him…the Lord is not just asking us to labor…He, too, labors in the vineyard…Jesus is the one who “did not deem equality with God something to grasp, but rather emptied Himself…dying on a cross…”
3. He asks this same humility of us, because His primary concern is not our life with Him…
B. He knows that conversion requires exactly this “a radical change in mentality and judgment” and we, all of us, human beings here on earth require constant conversion…constant reminders of our Lord…constant Grace…so that we can live His life.
1. This does not mean we like these reminders when they come…we human beings can sound a lot like the workers in the parable who were far more concerned about how they had been treated unjustly…than to see the great gift they had been given in Jesus Christ.
2. They were concerned that they be treated equally, when, in fact, they had been given “eternal joy.”