posted on September 23, 2014 21:49
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Isaiah 55:6-9
Reading II: Philippians 1:20-27
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16
Homily by Father Mike Kuse
Sometimes we all like to create a wonderful world, but we really don’t get into it. We want to watch what is going on in the world from the outside and we want to create something that looks good — but then the closer we get — it is not all that perfect.
This weekend out at the university they are having an intermural event where young men and women play basketball in wheelchairs. It is one thing to have two teams and all the members are in good shape physically. They sit in wheelchairs and wheel around the court trying to win. And each team member thinks, “Well, I’ve never done this before.”
But if you take it a step further, and find five people to make up a team who do not have legs and have been in wheelchairs all of their lives, and have them face five people who want to fake it and get into wheelchairs — you would see a whole different experience. Win or lose, they would all have been blessed because those who live in wheelchairs would show those who do not live in wheelchairs — this is what it is really like for us.
When Jesus says, “This is my kingdom and I want you all to be equal,” he is saying, “I don’t want you to be equal so you will all have the same things. I want you to be equal because my generosity means I’m giving all of you way more than you need. I just want to see how you are going to share it, how you are going to make life better for one another rather than to make divisions, and to say, ‘I have this but you don’t have that.’ Or, ‘We have this, but you don’t have that.’ ” Jesus says, “You just don’t get it.”
His example of the people going out into the field is excellent because most of us would probably say, “I don’t think that’s fair either.” And Jesus says, “I really didn’t ask you. It’s my kingdom. I am giving everybody everything. Nobody should want for anything. All you have to do is say, ‘Yes, Lord.’ And you will have the gifts and the strength to do what needs to be done.”
Sometimes we show this equality by judging one another. A friend of mine was telling me the other day, and they are cousins now, but in high school they were not cousins and he said, “You know, in high school my friend Tommy was the one who always had a good time and he didn’t really care if he graduated or not. I studied and I got to be a doctor. We both lived our lives and got to know each other. Tommy is now a multi-millionaire owning a huge trucking company. He once called me and said, ‘They just called me from Los Vegas. They have a fantastic suite and how about joining us and going out for a weekend?’ ”
Going back 40 years you would have thought the doctor would be the one saying, “Vegas is calling me. Even though you messed around, how would you like to go with me?” But it didn’t turn out that way. They’re both happy with beautiful families. But in God’s plan it didn’t turn out the way they thought. But they are both blessed. Both are very generous people, and faith-filled people. And in that whole process they have let God be a part of their lives. So you and I need to look at ourselves rather than everybody else.
It’s not like, “Do you make more than I do?” That’s irrelevant. Absolutely irrelevant.
God says, “Just look at your own life.”
The older we get and the more experiences we’ve had in our lives makes us look back and think, “Wow. Would I be doing what I’m doing today if it had not been for my parents and my grandparents? Would I be where I am today if someone else hadn’t made a difference?”
It’s not all about me, or all about you — it’s about us who are the children of God living in the Kingdom of God.
That is the beauty of Eucharist. You come to Mass and you might not know everyone by name. And you really don’t know what is happening in the lives of those sitting next to you. But we sit next to each other, we join hands, we drink from the same cup, and we eat the same bread. And Jesus says, “Everybody who walks out of church this morning will have been fed way beyond anything that they will ever need. All you have to do in your own beautiful and unique way is to live out the coming week and make a difference.”
It’s not that hard, but we have to toss out the things that get in the way. We can’t compare, we should not judge. No one can think they are better than the next person, and no one should think they have a right to anything. It has to be a complete surrender to God.
When our moment comes to die, there is no playing around with God. “Well God, if I’m going to die, then I think she should die also. If I’m going to die, let that one go first. I know I’ve lived a better life.” But God says, “Shut up. You’re coming now. All I’m asking is that when you look at me face to face, will you honestly be able to say, ‘Thanks, God. I did my best to use everything that you gave me. I gave it away to my spouse, to my children, to my friends, to my co-workers, to the parishioners, to the poor, to the rich, it didn’t make any difference.’ ”
And God will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.