25th Sunday of Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘WHY BE ENVIOUS, WHEN I AM GENEROUS?’ says the Lord.
Well here we are once again; don’t the weeks just fly by? However, isn’t it great to have some warmer weather back with us again, I felt cheated when we had the recent cold snap! (This is The Land Down Under for our Northern Readers) Spring is in the Air!!!!!!
Much has happened in the world since last week, what with the present uncertainty in the Korean Peninsula, the fleeing of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, and the terrible earthquakes in Mexico, and the Tropical storms in the Caribbean, as well as the explosive going off in the train carriage at Parson’s Green Station in London. God’s Word continues to echo around the world and throughout the Cosmos….’If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts’. However, there are so many hopeful situations happening in our world which we don’t hear about! Good News does not always sell Newspapers, let alone any Media where News is conveyed to our Living Rooms, and Kitchens or smart phones. It is sad to see people being nourished on bad news and negativity; it breeds gloominess, depression, hatred, cranky and tight-fisted people, lacking in real pity and generosity. But it is mostly the quiet achievers which are everywhere, and in so many situations where life giving relationships and harmony happen, without much ado, that does not hit the headlines, but it happens in abundance.
Let’s go deep sea diving into God’s Word to see what invitations are present for us today!
In the first Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we know that His inspirer, par excellence is the Lord God! God’s inspiration has been seen, experienced and understood through the constant manifestations of His mercy to His people…’our God is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways, it is the Lord who speaks.’ But the Lord God does not leave it at that, he says through the Prophet, ‘Let the evil one abandon their way, the evil one their thoughts, let them turn back to the Lord who will take pity on them. Pity is not a distant word of objectivity; when we look at the Greek Dictionary, by E.W Bullinger, Page 586, we get some very important understandings about the root meaning of this word. It says, having fellow-feeling, of great tender heartedness! In our day to day life, where in our body do we automatically have a response/feeling to fright? Happiness? Sorrow? Distress? Joy? Yes, you know the answer, in the region of our stomach! In our guts…our ‘gut reaction’. Our ancestors in faith were not scientists nor did they have medical and psychological knowledge that we have nowadays. Our ancestors in faith knew that when the very pit of their body was moved, a very strong feeling, and behaviour followed in relationships both good and bad! Food for thought, eh? Pity is not just some surface kind of activity or passing feeling that takes place in our mind; no Pity is an intrigal feeling that resides deep within our body and when this feeling is true and real, it radiates like a fiery wheel with us, that captivates, energises and effects our behaviours entirely and holistically, and it can have a catalytic positive response within other people; if they are open and receptive to it.
Now, please notice that in the first Reading, the Prophet invites us to SEEK and CALL on the Lord God! There is no excuse here for us to be personally reserved, and think to ourselves, ‘who am I to seek and call on the Lord God!’ We should have a Bargain Basement rush in response to this simple but profound invitation from our God. This personal response comes to us many times during our life, sometimes it is late in life, other times it pops up when we least expect it, and there is no time to sit on the side and say to ourselves, ‘no, not now…..maybe later!’ How foolish is that? There may be no later on at all!!!!!! If you get my drift! During my Ministry over the years, I have seen this ‘turning back to the Lord’ happen while being captivated by one of our loved ones dying! I have seen this response activated after tragic accidents, which don’t end in death, but somehow a second chance at life is offered to us; and what a massive ‘change’ within us often takes place.
We must be curious here; so what part of God is the basis for our growth in unconditional pity, mercy and generosity? It would seem that the answer is the inner change of heart that can take place within us is activated through ‘experienced forgiveness’ and a deep understanding of being ‘truly loved’; in short, the basis of this is found within the very heart of the lord God! It is from this threshold that all the gifts that St. Paul speaks about in his Letter to the Galatians 5:22-26 have their Genesis within, and given by the Holy Spirit to us, to all who are receptive, not to sit on the book shelf and gather dust, but to use, yes, all the time.
Now as we look at today’s Gospel in our times, and in all times; the manager was stupid! How could he make a living by treating his employees with such unbounded generosity? The answer has nothing to do with the Mercantile World, but it is grounded within the higher order of the mission of the Church in bringing Heaven to Earth as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.’
Now, let’s look at the grumbling employees; they are not within a bull’s roar of catching onto the unconditional spiritual dimension of generosity and pity which is within the very heart of God! We are called to be as St. Paul says, ‘Fools for Christ’s sake.’ God’s ways are not our ways! Yet we are called to that higher order. QUESTION? What hinders us from attaining that kind of ‘life-living pity and generosity’ towards other people? That’s the 60 Million Dollar question, isn’t it? That is for us as individuals to answer. The last line of the Gospel is a Twitter Message for all times….’Why be envious, when I am generous?’
Let’s finish with a little story which has a profound meaning for us…
MY ATTORNEY AND JUDGEMENT!
After living what I felt was a “decent” life, my time on earth came to the end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defence table.
As I looked around I saw the “prosecutor.” He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him.
The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, “Let us begin.”
The prosecutor rose and said, “My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.” He proceeded to tell of lies I told, things I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins even I completely forgotten about. As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defence at all. I know I was guilty of those things, but I did some good in my life – couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’d done?
Satan finished with a fury and said, “This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.”
When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendour and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Saviour.
He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, “Hi, Dad,” then He turned to address the court. “Satan was correct in saying this man sinned, I won’t deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished.” Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so this person might have eternal life and he accepted Me as his Saviour so he is Mine.”
My Lord continued with, “His name is written in the Book of Life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.”
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, “There is nothing else that needs to be done. I’ve done it all.”
The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips… “This man is free The penalty for him was already paid in full. Case dismissed”
As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, I will win the next one.”
I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, “Have you ever lost a case?” Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that comes to Me and asked Me to represent them, received the same verdict as you, “PAID IN FULL.”
Fr Kevin Walsh. Sydney Australia
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