Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Are you envious because I am generous?'Thus, the last will be first,
and the first will be last." (Mt. 20:1-16).
How often do we grumble with God because of God's awesome generosity and compassion towards others?
No matter how hard you try, you cannot beat God's Giving. You may think you're in God's favor and first in line. Scripture tells us, "The last will be first, and the first will be last" (Mt. 20:16), and "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt. 25:40).
How many here, reading or hearing this gospel, are somewhat concerned, maybe even upset if it were you receiving the same wages as those who got here after you? Or perhaps someone who was last was welcome in first before you.
One train of thought is that God would say to you and me, I am God all by myself, and I don't need anybody else to tell me how to use my generosity or compassion. I can do what I want when I want, and I don't need anybody dictating how I am to bless others. I understand, though, that this may not be a description of our loving, caring Father. Amen
We might look good to ourselves and others in a few areas of our service. But there will be numerous areas of our lives in which we desperately need the mercy of God.
God's ways are far above ours (Is 55:9). Let's practice reacting to everything by abandoning ourselves to God's mercy. "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 18:13-14).
You see and hear our God, who is generous in forgiving, telling you and me in the Old Testament reading today, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways, my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways, above your ways, and my thoughts, above your thoughts" (Is 55:9).
God's forgiveness, thoughts, and ways are so radically different from ours, as high as the heavens from the earth. What is your mindset, not your emotions, in life? Is it more of compassion, caring for others, or the mindset, I got mine, you get yours? With little or no time for others except me and mine.
Sacrifice of Body and Mind. "I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age, nor this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Rom. 12:1-2).
What is your mindset or better expectation of the children you are educating, those currently below grade level? The children whose parents do not follow up on their academic achievements or failures. The children who are not dressed well, and don't look as good as others—the children whose speech may be slurred or stuttered. Tell me, is it different from those who are privileged?
Mothers and Fathers, what are your mindset, thoughts, and expectations of the children you are raising? Are you raising them with the expectation that one day they may even be president of the United States of America, or religious superiors, Archbishop of a diocese, Cardinal, or even Pope? What is your mindset or expectation of these gifts from God? Knowing this possibility, how are you preparing them?
That homeless person may one day be your boss at work or the pastor at our church.
That formally incarcerated individual may one day be the heart surgeon who saves your child. Are we generous with loving all of God's children, all of God's people, young or old, black or white, in-prisoned or Free? You know the saying, what goes around, comes around. And you will reap what you sow.
The synoptic gospel speaks to this reality:
Matthew 7:2: "For just as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."
Mark 4:24 [Jesus] also said, "Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and more will be given to you."
Luke 6:38: "Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, pack together, shaking down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will be returned measured out to you."
The compassion, love, and forgiveness you render to others will be returned to you!
"I pray, Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may serve you joyfully as a teacher, religious, spiritual leader, priest, deacon, and inspire parents that we may serve our neighborhoods, our children, your children willingly with a compassionate and generous heart, not looking for how much we can get, but rather looking for how much we can give."
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! ( Psalm 32:1 )
Thankfully, God reminds us that we can go to Him when we MESS UP, and His amazing grace, how sweet the sound, can save a sinner like me, for I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see.
Jesus swaps our brokenness for beauty, our sins for salvation, and our pain for praise. It really feels too good to be true! That's the deal God made when we sent Jesus to die in our place. We now can be considered In God's favor, blessed, anointed, or happy when we go to God with our sins! God's grace is sufficient and available to us even in the midst of our worst, whether parenting, teaching, or counseling. We must always go to the Lord in prayer!
Be Blessed, my sisters and brothers in the Lord! Conduct yourself in a way worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Author: Deacon Allen Stevens, St. Peter of Claver, Archdiocese of New Orleans!
Song: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved, a ratch like me, I once was lost, but now I'm found was blind but now I see"!