Faith: It’s never too late to ask for God’s mercy

  • September 15, 2017

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 24 (Year A) Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16

We often search high and low for something precious that we cannot find. Convinced that it has been lost or stolen, we might even replace it. Then, lo and behold, we find it in the most obvious place, sometimes staring us right in the face.

So it is with God, and Isaiah urges us to seek the Lord while the Lord is still near. God doesn’t go anywhere; it is all our own misperception.

Our minds and hearts can easily become clouded, filled with fear, anxiety, distractions, negative thoughts and emotions, and just plain boredom. It is no wonder that God seems distant — even non-existent — to so many people.

The psalm encourages us with the promise that the Lord is near to all who call on Him. Calling on the Lord means much more than invoking the divine name — it is a deep yearning of the heart and soul, along with openness and hope. Isaiah assures us that it is never too late, for God is always willing and eager to grant us mercy and pardon.

Only someone living in an isolated cave would be unaware that the world is in a chaotic, fearful and extremely dangerous state. It seems as if so many systems do not work and that all our mechanisms for running human society are coming unraveled before our eyes.

Of course, there are political, social, economic and psychological forces at work, but they are merely the symptoms of a far deeper malady. Humanity has lost its moorings — its inner unity and harmony with God, replacing divine principles with human ways of thinking and acting. Even though God’s name is on the lips of many, God is in the hearts and minds of far fewer.

The second part of Isaiah’s prophecy warns us that God will probably communicate to us things we do not want to hear, for God’s thoughts and ways are radically different than those of humans. We cannot worship a mirror image of ourselves. We are cautioned that if we seek God, it is on God’s terms, not ours. All must be willing to let go of their way of doing things and make radical changes.

Many have at one time or another longed to be with Christ in Heaven. This feeling can be acute when we are facing painful or difficult situations. Paul felt that way too, but he had an answer: He wanted to exalt Jesus Christ in his life on Earth.

It is the offering and gratitude that we give to God. We all have lessons to learn while we are on Earth and it is important that we share our hope, joy and love with others through service. Paul leaves us with some simple yet profound words: Live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Imagine working all day in the heat and getting the same pay as someone that only worked for an hour in the evening. It offends our sense of fairness, but that is the point of this parable. It is an illustration of Isaiah’s warning that God’s ways and thoughts are nothing like ours.

The example for the parable was taken from everyday life and even today one can see young Palestinian men standing near the bus station in Jerusalem waiting to be hired for day labour. It is a bitter disappointment to be passed over and given no work, so we can imagine the joy of those hired at the end of the day. They at least had something.

The parable teaches us that God is exceedingly generous in continually bestowing gifts, striving to make sure that no one is left out. We should rejoice in this.

This stands in contrast to the territorial possessiveness represented by the other workers. They worked more, so they wanted more; they “deserved” more. But God treats everyone equally — there is no hierarchy of worthiness in the kingdom.

The mere fact that those hired last were willing and eager to work was enough. God is generous to all without distinction, proving how different God is from humans.

No one deserves or merits anything. All that we receive from God is a gracious and merciful gift. Humble gratitude and willingness to share these gifts with others is the proper response.