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Homily for Twenty-fifth Sunday, year A

22 Sep 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

One can confidently call Pope Francis an apostle of mercy, for he has been on the side of mercy and simplicity of life. He declared an extraordinary jubilee year of mercy (8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016), allowing so many people to reconcile to God and man. It was a year of grace, a year of sober reflections on the mercy of God and our expected response.

The extraordinary year of mercy may have ended, but the mercy of God endures forever. The Cathedral door of mercy may have been closed, but the heart of Jesus is still open for every believer to pass through. That is what the prophet Isaiah reminds us of this morning in our first reading. He says; Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near. Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving. He reminds us that the heart of Jesus, the abys of mercy, is still open to us, let every sinner seek mercy and forgiveness. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and so, Isaiah advises us this morning to take advantage of the availability of divine mercy and repent. For a time will surely come when there is no mercy; seek him therefore while he is still to be found.

Many of us may have the feeling that we’ve gone too far from God, that we’ve committed all kinds of atrocities, we are no longer redeemable. But I stand here to tell you that it is a lie; your feelings are wrong. You are redeemable; our sins can be forgiven because the heart of Jesus, the abys of mercy is still open. Do not be deceived into believing that you cannot be forgiven; that is satanic. For God says, My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways, not your ways…yes, the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. To think that our sins cannot be forgiven is not God’s way nor his thoughts. Let us seek him with all our hearts, now that he is still to be found; it may be too late to gain access into the kingdom of God by tomorrow.

Jesus in the parable of the vineyard tells us what the kingdom of God is like. He says that the kingdom of God is like a landowner who went out at daybreak to hire workers to work in his vineyard. He made an agreement with them for a denarius each and sent them into the vineyard for a day’s job. The landowner went out again to hire other workers at different hours; the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and the eleventh hour. They all worked in the same vineyard but for different hours; some started working during daybreak, some others came after three hours, some came mid-day and late in the evening. At the end of the day, they were all paid equally. You may say what injustice was exactly what the early workers thought; they questioned why they should be paid equally because they worked all day and were expected to receive more.

When you look at this parable again, you would observe no injustice there but mercy. In fact, the landowner said, My friend, I am not unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own?

You would also observe an agreement between the landowner and the early workers, but for those that came later, there was no agreement but a promise. Go and work in my vineyard; I will pay you a fair wage.

Brethren, you and I are invited to work in the vineyard of God without any form of agreement. We are here because of the promise of God, because of his mercy. We are certainly not among the early workers, those privileged to have given their lives to Christ completely from birth, those that lived holy life from the beginning. Many of us have lived a life not worthy of God’s children, but that is not the point today. Our interest this morning is in mercy. The late workers accepted God’s mercy; they embraced it with all their hearts and remained grateful. That is what is expected of us to appreciate and embrace the mercy of God in repentance today, now that the Lord is still to be found.

May God bless his word in our hearts. Amen!