Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

You are made for eter­nal life and you will have eter­nal life. We know that there are four things that come when our mor­tal life comes to an end: death, judg­ment, heav­en, and hell. We will all see three out of the four. We will die; we will be judged. And based on God’s judge­ment, we will spend eter­ni­ty either with God in heav­en or cut off from God in hell. We work, pray, and hope for heav­en; we can have con­fi­dence that we will be judged fair­ly not on our own mer­it, but on our faith. Because our God is both per­fect­ly mer­ci­ful and also per­fect­ly just, He gives us Christ as our sav­ior so that we can be saved through the mer­it of Our Lord.

That’s Cat­e­chism 101, right? We all know that. But let’s apply it through the read­ings we hear today.

The first read­ing tells us sev­er­al impor­tant things. Seek the Lord while He may be found; call Him while He is near. God is all good; we find Him in doing good. We will not find Him in doing evil, and so we must for­sake evil thoughts and actions. It isn’t enough to act accord­ing to our fall­en nature; we must act accord­ing to our high­er nature: to what God calls us to be.

Also, we must seek God. We must active­ly look for Him – search Him out in doing good and think­ing good. We must advance the King­dom of God on earth if we want to find Him. We can’t sim­ply stum­ble through life hop­ing for the best. We must active­ly look – active­ly do – God’s will, which is always for the good.

God’s thoughts and ways are so high above us that the search is not always easy, but the rewards are worth all of the effort it takes and more, for as the psalm tells us The Lord is near to all who call upon Him.

In the sec­ond read­ing, Paul is writ­ing about the same ideas. Life is Christ and death is gain. In liv­ing, Paul will con­tin­ue to labor for the Lord and his work will pro­duce fruit. It did in his life­time; it has in the cen­turies since. For those of us hear­ing his words today, it still does and it will con­tin­ue to pro­duce fruit long after you and I are gone. This is God’s plan. To bor­row a phrase from a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion show: this is the Way. The true Way in which is found the Way, the Truth, and the Light. It is true for Paul and it is as true for us. Our works, our thoughts, and our prayers can pro­duce great fruit for the King­dom of God, if only we con­duct our­selves in a way wor­thy of the Gospel of Christ.

Even the verse before the Gospel gives us insight into this mys­tery: Open our hearts, O Lord, to lis­ten to the words of your Son.

Open our hearts, Lord. Today, tomor­row, and always and let us hear the Gospel. Let it enter us and trans­form us. Let it make us what You call us to be and let it lead us through our thoughts, words, and deeds ever clos­er to You and Your Holy King­dom. Let it inspire us to know You, to love You, and to serve You in this life. Most of all, let it lead us to You in the life to come so that we may be with you for­ev­er in Heav­en. Alleluia, indeed.

The Gospel read­ing today fol­lows the same pat­tern we’ve seen in recent Sun­days. Jesus is describ­ing the king­dom of heav­en to us in terms of a para­ble. The king­dom of heav­en is like a landown­er who went out at dawn to hire labor­ers for his vine­yard. He went to the mar­ket­place and found labor­ers who were there, wait­ing to be hired. He didn’t pick a ran­dom loca­tion; he didn’t beat around the bush­es hop­ing to scare up labor­ers. He went to where they labor­ers could be found wait­ing for him… to where the labor­ers were seek­ing him, and he hired them to do work – to pro­duce some­thing good – for him. And in exchange he promised them the usu­al dai­ly wage. Then he went out again and again and again, doing the same until at the end of the day, he had some work­ers who had labored all day and some who had labored only a few hours. Yet at the end of the day, they all received the same pay­ment – the same reward – for the fruit of their labor.

Like the landown­er, God seeks us. Like the labor­ers, we seek Him. Some of us find Him ear­ly; some find Him much lat­er. The reward is the same for all of us, and it is the reward for which we all hope: life eter­nal in heav­en with our Lord. We can­not and we must not feel cheat­ed when those who find God very late in life are invit­ed to the same ban­quet in heav­en for which we long. In fact, we should feel exact­ly the oppo­site. It is not those who come to know our Lord ear­ly who should feel as if their life was less than it could have been – it is those who come late. Yes, some­times work­ing for the king­dom does feel like a bur­den and a labor, but it is a labor in which we can find incred­i­ble joy… now and when our earth­ly work comes to an end and our eyes are opened to the great­est mys­tery of all. Then, it will not be unrea­son­able to look back on our lives with regret that per­haps we didn’t work longer and hard­er for the king­dom. For­give us our sins, what we have done and what we have failed to do.

Final­ly, one more very impor­tant point: seek­ing God where He may be found is the wise path. It is the eas­i­est and best path. It is not the only path. If we want to accom­plish some­thing good we should take the most direct path pos­si­ble. But we should nev­er despair of God’s mer­cy, for God’s mer­cy is with­out end. Those who wan­der from the path will be called back to it, if only their hearts are open to that call.

At the end of our life, we will face our judge – the one true, per­fect Judge… the One whose love and mer­cy is with­out end, and whose jus­tice is per­fect. Know­ing this, we should devote our­selves to con­duct­ing our lives in a way wor­thy of the Gospel – in the way God calls every one of us to be – so that we may receive the reward of heav­en and live for­ev­er with God.

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