“..seek the Lord while he is still to be found..call to him while he is still near..”
..it sounds as if his leaving us is imminent..& where pray do we expect him to go but home to heaven..at a distance from us again..
..a saying of one of the desert fathers, the first monks, was “seek God not where God is”
..seek the person God not the place heaven..
we’ve been taught conditioned to think of, to look forward to, the place [heaven] first & the person & relationship with God comes a poor second..
..hence no wonder a God who needs searching out, as if he could ever be distant / apart from us..to be called on, as if he was always listening to someone elses needs or to their love songs..
..for the times we attempt to define him & position him where & in whom we think he should be, let us ask for his forgiveness..
“..for my thoughts are not your thoughts..” ; Lord have mercy
“..my ways are not your ways..” ; Christ have mercy
“..turn back to our God who is rich in forgiving..” ; Lord have mercy
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life.
“..the early bird catches the worm..” gospel reminds me of those who shop in Helmsley of a Saturday morning; into each shop just after 8am with pick of crop & no queues, & back to Village by 845am..& much as it is disappointing if I go in at 3pm on Sat pm I shouldn’t be surprised to find that Thomas the baker has none of my beloved yumyums left..we think react respond understandably naturally, congratulating the eager beever & being disappointed for & with those of ninth hour appearance..however Our Lord asks us to think again “for my thoughts are not your thoughts” we judge misjudge the informality & chronology of casual worker at our peril..casual by name but not of nature..those often of Eastern European origin who stand around in market place in Spalding or Driffield waiting for a tractor & trailer to appear & offer days work pea picking..”a heavy days work in all the heat” casual labour, money in hand, not even in brown envelope..we’ve all benefited from them at one time or another; car washers in Thirsk/Malton we’d rather not know how much of £7 they receive, nor where they sleep 4 to a room..with meagre pay squandered?..or preciously sent home to support beloved family?..we misjudge them as work-shy mendicants & as landowner challenged them & their authenticity “why have you been standing here idle all day?” they spoke their truth with dignity “ because no one has hired us” & the invitation into relationship materialises; the willing meet the needy..
& pray which way round?..who is the needy?..”for my thoughts are not your thoughts”..
you may perhaps have sensed, in self righteous attitude & in Perfect Peter of last Sundays homily, the presence of the older brother from story of prodigal son..the workaholic who slaved all those years, meticulously earning his full share of estate, bereft of any loving relationship with his soft hearted generous father, whilst his brother idly squandered the family silver..“not so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends” he doggedly stuck it out at home for what he could & would get out of it..the first in line, early bird elder expecting to get much more yet receives same as lastcomer & prodigal..clear crime of unfairness if you’ve been taught old fashioned Catholicism & its performance related reward, incentivised for compliance, & disowned punished for moral financial emotional felony..sheep & goats, heaven & hell, wheat & darnel, practising & non-practising “I’ve come to this Church religiously for 40yrs & then “they” turn up again & expect the red carpet & equal pay” & thanks be to God we can, indeed we are encouraged to, reread & retranslate gospels, to realise acknowledge & enjoy the utter generosity of the landowner at loving the ninth & eleventh hour worker as much as the eager early bird..to love the last just one jot more than the rest; [ the one in family who gave us more sleepless nights than rest put together yet left his mischief & came home empty handed hungry to love & to be loved ]..be they late-comer, unable, disabled or work-shy, at last minute they came home..we go forward from here together towards eventual visit of our divine landowner;
..our calling is to realise acknowledge continuing presence of the moaners & grumblers, the meticulously compliant & the dogged workaholics, the needy & the willing, & to go out at every hour of every day & invite in our fellow workers..explaining to them we’ve been on zero hours spiritual contracts so far for life, a lifeboat crew ever on standby 24x7 ready for the call..we belong to the crew, this motley crew, not from merit but from grace ..the real stars of the story aren’t eager beevers or half day labourers, but the late comers.. notice the master doesn’t mention rate of pay with them, & they don’t ask “what’s in it for us?”..they just rock up & go willingly to work in vineyard..again..as if it was only yesterday they’d last done a shift, relying on the masters judgement & generosity..model servants; boast of nothing, they do only their duty..& for that simply they are the first.. ”my thoughts are not your thoughts”..& now a time to go home & explain to your son & daughter, who’ve perhaps given up waiting in kitchen or bedroom on their iphone of a Sat night or Sun morning, thinking you’d never invite them onto the tractor & trailer & into this vineyard..belonging not from merit but from grace.. [ 25thSunYrA Mt 20;1-16]