Homily / 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Cycle “A” – 2017
(Tonight/this morning) Jesus is telling us a STEWARDSHIP PARABLE, and in doing so, he is telling us loud and clear HOW THINGS “ARE” from his Father-God’s point of view! — GOD is the OWNER of the “state of the art” VINEYARD, which stands for our WORLD! — GOD CREATED IT, AND IT BELONGS TO HIM! — YOU and I are only TENANT FARMERS; we are the “RENTERS” to whom this wonderful world has been “LEASED.” — And, as with any “lease,” there is a PAYMENT due!
In a nutshell, GOD EXPECTS that the bounty of his creation will be shared! You and I don’t OWN this world – it’s “on loan” from God — (as is every gift that we’ve been given.) — Our life, our family and friends, our faith, our time, our talents and our treasure – EVERYTHING that we HAVE and ARE and HOPE TO BE – is a GRACE – or GIFT, And GOD AS THE GIVER, has every RIGHT to EXPECT SOMETHING “BACK,” as PROOF that we are THANKFUL.
In the Bible, GOD’S SHARE is called a “TITHE” – which literally means 10%!:
– 10% of our TIME, each day, devoted to prayer and to reverent, respectful, attentive, person-to-person communication with each other, as GOD’S beloved children. — 10% of our TALENTS spent on “building up” God’s Kingdom here on earth, by acting as Jesus acted – by trying OUR BEST to meet the needs of others where we see those needs each day – in our own homes, at work, at school, on the ball field, in the supermarket, even thousands of miles away! — (For example, during the past three weeks we have been reminded, again and again, that we ARE our “brothers and sisters keepers” – and that we have a MORAL OBLIGATION to reach out a helping hand to the victims of the HURRICANES in TEXAS, FLORIDA, and the CARIBBEAN and the devastating earthquake in Mexico!)
(A fact, of which I am very proud, as pastor, is that the students, of our All Hallows Academy are learning to “give back,” (as an important part of the values which they are being taught) – and have responded to the disasters in Texas and Florida with a donation of $1,000.)
And finally, 10% of our TREASURE should be given back to God by supporting the work of our CHURCH and our favorite CHARITIES. Many practice a 5% – 5% allocation of treasure. 5% to GOD through CHURCH; and 5% to GOD through the support of BOTH – HUMANITARIAN CAUSES (which feed the body and help to rebuild lives); and the ARTS (which feed the soul)!
For those who might be “math challenged,” let me give you a very concrete example of how this works. Let’s say your take-home pay is $50,000 a year. 10% of that figure would equal $5,000. $2,500 to support the work of your CHURCH. And $2,500 to support your CHARITY or Charities of choice!
Does this sound “unrealistic,” or “out of the question”? — Then ask yourself, “Is what I plan to put into the collection basket at least equal to the TIP I left for the waiter the last time I had a really nice meal out with my spouse or with friends?”
Is a dollar bill an adequate thank-you to God who has given us EVERYTHING? —- I’m sorry, but I don’t think so, unless you’re six years old!
You will also note, that in today’s parable, the TENANT FARMERS DON’T WANT to give the OWNER OF THE VINEYARD, his fair-share! They want it ALL for THEMSELVES. — And so, they beat, stone or kill the servants that the landowner sends looking for the rent!
Let me go ON RECORD as begging you, “Please don’t kill this messenger, if this message is DIFFICULT for you to hear.” Because it is my DUTY, as your priest and pastor, to remind you of how things WORK in the Kingdom of God! — Remember that it was JESUS, himself, who told us this parable, to REMIND us that there is “NO FREE LUNCH IN THIS LIFE,” and that we OWE something to God!
I’m simply reminding you of that FACT, because: COME JUDGEMENT DAY, I DON’T WANT ANY OF US TO BE IN FOR A NASTY SURPRISE!
And finally a MESSAGE that we’ve all heard again and again, but which we all need to hear in the face of last Sunday’s HORROR! — It is a message that you and I, as FOLLOWERS OF JESUS, must REPEAT again and again – to anyone and everyone who will listen. And, the message is this: “NEVER GIVE UP on the GOODNESS OF GOD! — NEVER GIVE UP on the BASIC GOODNESS OF LIFE! — And, NEVER GIVE UP on the BASIC GOODNESS of your fellow man and your fellow woman – who, (just like yourself), were created in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of GOD!”
Yes, we are capable of grossly MISUSING the wonderful gift of FREE WILL that God has given us. But we are also capable (as we have so recently witnessed) – of extraordinary, selfless acts of HEROISM: Think of those who risked their lives rescuing those stranded by the rising waters in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and the Caribbean! — Think of those risking their lives, at this very moment, searching through the rubble in Mexico. — Think of those fire-fighters, and police and fellow-concert-goers… who ran toward the gunfire – risking their own lives in an attempt to save the lives of people they didn’t; (and perhaps) would never know! —- (So, NEVER give up on the basic goodness of others! — NEVER!)
Events like the massacre in Las Vegas SHOULD REMIND US that WE have CHOICES of our OWN to make; CHOICES about HOW we want to LIVE and WHAT is WORTH LIVING FOR. —– And the HORIZON against which we’ll make these choices is the CERTAINTY that EVIL begets EVIL; and HATRED begets HATRED. And that evil and hatred MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO PREVAIL! ——- And, they will NOT PREVAIL, because: God’s MERCY and FORGIVENESS is greater than SIN. — LOVE is more POWERFUL than HATRED. — And, LIFE is STRONGER than DEATH! —–That, my brothers and sisters, is the story that God wants us to hear. It is the MESSAGE – the GOOD NEWS – that JESUS came to bring!
And, NOW it is up to YOU and ME to give this message flesh and blood – our own flesh and blood!