Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homily (2) 25th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 25th Sunday of Year A:  Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 55:6-9; Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18 and Phil 1: 20c-24,27a and Matt 20:1-16a.
The Graciousness of God

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate towards all his words,” (Ps 145.)

These words of the psalmist define what we celebrate today, namely;  the mystery of the goodness of the Lord, his righteousness, his love and mercy; his generosity, his grace, and the mystery of his  divine justice! We celebrate the character of God. His willingness to keep, to renew the covenant he has long established with our athers and mothers: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim , Moses, David!

Recall, in Exodus 32 when Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, the Israelites made other gods for themselves. They broke the covenant, practiced idolatries, and sought other gods.  God, because of who he is: love, kindness, compassion, truth, justice, righteousness, did not break away from Israel, completely.

 With Moses’ plea, God reestablishes his covenant with Israel, in Exodus 34. In facts, God’s mercy spares Lot in the City of Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s mercy spares the people of Nineveh. God’s mercy brought Israelites back from exiles. In facts, successive prophets, Amos, and particularly Hosea in his marriage affairs with Gomer portrays this same image of a forgiving and merciful God.

This image of God reflects in today’s readings.  Isaiah 55:6-9, is a story of sin, pardon and glory. It is a story of exile and  the invitation of the returnee to seek the Lord. It is a story of the mystery of God’s love and of restoration of the fortunes of those who seek him. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.

He keeps his doors of mercy and generosity open for all.  He knows our needs. This is true in parable of today’s Gospel, where God, the land owner, distributes his wealth equally to various groups of laborers whom he employed at various hours of the day; morning, afternoon and evening. This is how God teaches us his own definition of justice. He is not unjust because he has not broken any of  the contracts he established with his various workers, even as stipulated in the Levitical and Deuteronomic codes(Lev 19:13 and Deut 24:14-15). God keeps to his promises!

This parable sound familiar to us in a world of broken justice system, broken contracts, mutual agreements and promises, unemployment and underpayment of minimum wages to church and govement workers. This parable invites us to reevaluate how we make effort to keep our vows (religious and secular), carry out our responsibilities and fulfil our commitments beginning from our homes, families to the public offices.

Another point worth taking note of in the Gospel is envy. Sometimes we grumble and envy other’s talents and gifts, even when our neighbors’ gifts do not threaten us, or stand on our ways, nor prevent us from exercising our talents and God’s given gifts.

To let Christ be magnified in our bodies as Paul would put it in the second reading, is to appreciate and imitate God’s sense of justice and seek God. It is to be kind, merciful, forgiving,  gracious, selfless, compassionate, fidelity to the truth of the Gospels, and the teaching of Christ’s Church- loving as well, as Christ would have first loved us.