August 23, 2017
(St. Rose of Lima)
Jesus said, “Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Mt_20:1-16
Today we see the results of rebellion compared to unreservedly answering God’s call. In our 1st reading, after God had given the “promised land” of the Canaanites to Israel, we see their slow and rebellious disobedience of His commandments.
So God endowed certain special men and women with the authority to be Judges. And there was a man named Gideon who was one of these. As the story went, Gideon had seventy sons of various wives, and one other, by the name of Abimelech, who was born of a concubine, one of their slave women.
This Abimelech, was a power-hungry, wretch of a man, who, in his quest for kingship, killed 69 of Gideon’s sons, while only one escaped his sword. He convinced the Lords of Shechem to elect him as their king. And Jotham, the one remaining son of Gideon, gave the Lords the parable that we heard today, about the trees.
It told of the reluctance, or rebellious refusal of the Lords to rule the kingdom, which they were perfectly capable of doing. The only one who was left to do the job was the scrappy, thorn-bush of a man, Abimelech, who brought terror to the kingdom instead.
The parable was a warning to the Lords to return to God, and to use the talents He gave them for the good of all, rather than just for their own selfish pride.
Jesus likewise, gave a parable about the rebellion, the refusal of the Israelite leaders to accept Him as their promised Messiah.
In it, He showed how – there were many people chosen to work in His vineyard, and how they all eventually received their payment or reward. But just like the workers in Jesus’ parable, who were last and received their payment first, while those who were first were paid last: the Gentiles who were last, and had chosen to accept Jesus, will receive their heavenly reward first; while the Pharisees who were first and refused to believe in Him, will receive their reward last, when they finally make that conversion. And yet, notice that they were all equally paid!
It’s funny, because even in our Church today, some people may think that they are special in God’s eyes, only because they had gone to Church all their lives, they had done good deeds, and sacrificed themselves wherever they could.
And yet, when they saw others, who later in life were welcomed by God, they found themselves feeling jealous or angry because they felt that they should be the privileged ones. When in reality, their privilege is only as good as their own purity. And their own purity is still lacking in the elimination of that pride that makes them feel so privileged.
You see, God loves everyone equally!
And even though they may have been first, they just may end up last because of their pride and prejudice.
You know, God’s ways are not our ways, brothers and sisters. And the lesson we learn, is that ALL we need to really concern ourselves about – is our own business, unless that business is, as it should be, helping others to reach the Goal of God’s kingdom as well. THAT’s God’s call to us!
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