Homily for September 21

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

We all have disagreements with others in our lives,
in our families, among friends, in our neighborhoods,
in the church and at work…

But I’m wondering: do we have any disagreements with God?
God seems to think we do. 
Listen to his words in the first scripture today:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts
and my ways are not your ways, says the Lord…

Sounds to me like some pretty solid grounds for disagreement here,
disagreement with God unless you’ve cleared all that up
and now your thoughts are God’s thoughts and
your ways are God’s ways – just about all the time.

But we know that’s not the case.
Very often, in fact, God’s take on things substantially differs from ours:
we don’t always think the way God thinks,
our ways don’t always parallel God’s ways.

In fact, sometimes the difference between God’s thoughts and ways
are as high above our own - as the sky is beyond our reach.

An example…
It seems a decent thought, a good way of doing things
to love our friends and hate our enemies.
But God disagrees with us on this point and tells us
to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us,
to love our enemies and not to curse them.
And there’s no footnote indicating any exceptions to this norm.

In fact, it’s precisely that enemy, the one I’m inclined to hate the most,
it’s that enemy whom God calls me to love and pray for.

And then there’s that business of forgiveness.

In our own lives, who’s the person has hurt us the most? 
Who has lied to me?   used me?   betrayed me?  stolen from me?
cheated me?   treated me unfairly?
Whoever that might be, that’s the first name on the list
of those the Lord calls me to forgive.
We’re not asked to condone the words or deeds of the one who hurt us,
but we are called to forgive that person – as we have been forgiven.

I’m called, we are called, to forgive as God forgives:
fully, freely and frequently.

Someone once asked Jesus how frequently: maybe 7 times?
But Jesus answered, “At least 70 X 7 times – and more if necessary.”

God’s thoughts aren’t our thoughts, God’s ways not our ways.

Consider God’s expectations of our generosity.
The Lord looks not so much at what I give away
as much as to what I keep for myself.
How much is enough?  I begin to approach that kind of giving
when I begin to feel the pinch myself,
when I find myself giving not from my surplus but from my want.

God’s thoughts aren’t our thoughts.
And often, the difference between God’s ways and our ways
is as great as the distance from the earth to the heavens.

But, here’s the good news in that first scripture today.
Yes, we have disagreements with God, but God wants to settle them..
The Lord invites us to seek him while he may be found,
to call on him while he is near.

To do that, we’ll need to leave behind
some of our own thoughts and ways
and become more faithful to God’s.

Of course, that may not be easy, but the Lord promises
to be generous and merciful in helping
all who seek him and call for his help.

The basic move here, the first step to take, is to acknowledge
that I’m at odds with God.
Things aren’t quiet right and I need to make some changes.

The Lord asks me to love not just my friends,
but my enemies, too: those who have hurt and offended me.

And the Lord asks me to forgive them as I myself am forgiven by God.
And the Lord is always looking for me to give more of myself,
my heart, my time, my resources and more of my love to others.

And to give until it hurts, until I have at least an inkling
of the depths and breadth of the love Jesus gave for me.

We could argue about the fairness of how the landowner in the gospel
paid the different shifts of workers who toiled for him.
It’s interesting to note that those who disagreed with the boss
were those who received exactly what they had been promised.

But we’d all probably do better to look into our own lives
to see our own complaints before God
and seek to settle our disagreements with the Lord
while we have the time, while we can still call on his name.

At the Lord’s Table he feeds us all with the same food:
his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Whether we have worked in his vineyard all our lives
or only recently come to seek him and call on his name,
let us be grateful that he offers each and all of us
all that is his to give.


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