Homily Sunday morning by Fr Michael


The gospel this morning is a challenge for all of us. We all too easily side with the person who stood up to the landowner for giving the same wage to those who had worked the whole day as to those who has worked only an hour in the vineyard. After all a laborer deserves his or her pay, this is just a matter of justice. Our first reading gives us at least part of the answer to our dilemma but I think St Paul in his letter to the Philippians gives us the full explanation.

When God says to us through the prophet Isaiah “ my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” we are being reminded of how easy it is for any of us to misinterpret the mind of God, to begin to assume that the way I think is the way it ought to be. Jesus is telling us as much in the parable, how our human judgments about labor in the God’s vineyard may differ from those of the kingdom of heaven. I am reminded of the good thief on the cross beside Jesus during his crucifixion, his asking Jesus to be remembered when he came into his kingdom, gained for him Christ’s promise: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Often enough in our world today we see God working in human lives in so many unexpected ways.

It is the reading from Paul, however, that seems to me to give us the key to our parable. He tells the Philippians: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” Paul sees clearly what labor in God’s vineyard entails and what the daily wage is that God gives us as we work to be faithful to our Christian calling. It means allowing Christ to be magnified in us whether by life or death. It means not knowing which to choose, whether to depart from this life so as to be with Christ or to remain in the flesh for the benefit of others. The wages of our working in God’s vineyard is a sharing in the very life of God’s beloved Son. This being the case, it matters very little to us whether those who worked one hour receive the same wages as we who have labored all day long. So wonderful, so gracious, so loving is God’s gift to each of us that our only wish is that every member of the human family may share in it.

God is generous beyond our greatest imagining! To become living members of Christ’s own Body, so that the life blood that flows in the veins of the glorified Christ, flows in our own veins as his living members is our dignity and destiny. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, our lives become one with his in today’s world, living witnesses of the gospel that as Christians we are called to proclaim.

Is this not at the heart of the Eucharist we are celebrating together around this altar this morning. This altar is the symbol of the loving sacrifice Jesus endured on Calvary which becomes not only present but transformative as we gather here in faith. As we allow what Christ has accomplished to nourish the whole of our lives, as with St Paul, Christ is magnified in our bodies as well, whether by life or by death. Here we are reminded of just how much we are living members of his own Body and are called upon to let this life touch all those with whom we live. Let us own our great dignity and be continually grateful for God’s continual gift all day long as we too labor in his vineyard.

Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a; Matthew 20:1-16a