Homily – 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

Before we begin the real homily, so don’t start timing me yet. How many of us agree with the farm workers in today’s gospel? How many of us think they got cheated? Show of hands. How many agree with the ones who worked all day that they got cheated?

A couple of you are willing to tell the truth. Very good. Okay. How many of you agree but are willing to tell the truth? It’s very interesting. Well, now you can start time for your consideration today. Two stories. First story right after I come to the diocese after graduate school, I was in my first parish assignment. The pastor decided to open a homeless shelter in the school auditorium.

There you can imagine the reactions that he got. I won’t tell you how long ago that was. Let’s just say it was last century. As people got more and more agitated, he decided to have a town hall meeting and address the issue. So the place was packed. And in the middle of what really was a very heated discussion, a ten year old boy walked down the center of the aisle to the microphone.

Now, are there any ten year olds in the congregation this morning? Is there just Phil? Put your hands down. I didn’t say ten times ten. So he got to the microphone and really just said, you know, this is not about property values. It is about gospel values. Ten year olds often get gospel value much quicker than the adults.

We have too many other things on our minds. That’s why Jesus says, let the little children come to me, because children very often get the deeper meaning of the parables that the Lord teaches us. The only way that we are going to understand the gospel value is just what we heard from the Prophet. This morning. Seek the Lord while he may be found, and to seek unity with God means that we’re willing to change our minds, to change our hearts, to let go of the way the world thinks.

The values of the world and embrace the way Christ Jesus asks us to think and gospel values. Now. That may sound easy, but it’s really not letting go of the way we think and what we do is really very difficult. And what it really means is that we have to adopt a kingdom vocabulary and gospel values.

We have to put away everything that we think we know, we should say. And embrace what the Lord has said. Matthew Bates is very clear in his gospel because Jesus in Matthew’s gospel is the great teacher. He uses a vocabulary meant to instruct our hearts and that kingdom vocabulary allows us to live gospel values, not in the worldly way, but in the way of the Lord and in the way of the Lord.

The last will be first, and the first shall be last. Whether we are baptized as an infant or we make a deathbed conversion. All of us live in the hope of salvation in Christ. That means that everything gets turned upside down. You know, the exalted will be humbled, the humbled, exhausted, exalted. Tax collectors and sinners will get into heaven ahead of the righteous mourners will laugh, the hungry will be fed.

All of this is kingdom vocabulary or gospel values. Which leads to the second story. It’s a covered story. How many of us have a COVID story about Tell me the truth? We all have a COVID story. Well, the way Holy Trinity Church parish rectory is designed is that there’s the office, and the office has a big partition made of plexiglass.

So you come in the front door and there you are with the plexiglass. So from eight to noon, I would sit there, answer the phone, talk to people. If someone came in to talk or go to confession, it was through plexiglass. Everyone was safe. Then around noon I would have lunch and then at 1:00 was my favorite COVID feature, the COVID nap.

How many of us got into the habit of the COVID nap – the best thing ever was that that every day from March to July? At any rate, now I’ve kind of lost the point of that story. But anyway, the COVID. Oh, and then I discovered Netflix and binge watching how many people binge watch through COVID? How many binge watch Watched Stranger Things.

All right. What was it that was so interesting about Stranger Things? Where did the line come from? The Dow under the down under, where everything gets turned upside down. Now, think about when we were kids. How many of us read Alice in Wonderland? What does Alice have to do? She’s got to fall through the rabbit hole and get down.

Think of all the epic poems we had to read. Where does the hero always have to go Down Under? There is something about the Down Under that captures our imagination. And what is it about the Down Under? Everything gets turned on its head. Did COVID turn us on our heads? Yes. Did we consider kingdom vocabulary and gospel values a little bit more?

We hope. And in the end, did it remind us that sometimes God turns everything upside down, the hungry or fed the poor or insulted sinners and tax collectors? Yeah. Didn’t do heaven. And the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Today we have to stop and consider. Are we willing to go the full distance to the Down under with Christ in the Apostles Creed?

What do we say? And Christ descended into hell and rose again on the third day that we have to die to our very selves in order to rise with Christ. To turn our world upside down. With kingdom vocabulary and gospel values. The question for us today is are we willing to do it? Are we willing to say, no, The world is upside down and we are set to make everything right?

During the prefacing a moment. We are going to pray and say, Lift up our hearts because the Lord is with us. It is an appeal to be lifted up emotionally, to rejoice and be glad here and now to see the Lord while he may be found. And that means that we change our hearts, our minds, and we lift them up to the Lord, leaving behind the way of the world.

Isn’t it interesting that it’s kingdom vocabulary and gospel values? So let’s go back to those vineyard workers. Were they thinking property value or gospel value? Let’s consider ten year olds who understand today’s parable. Do ten year olds think with property values or gospel values? And when we leave church today to go back into the world, are we going to use gospel vocabulary and live gospel values?

Or what are we going to do? Are we going to be envious because God is generous with salvation in Christ? In the end, it’s as always, up to us. But there are stranger things in the world than kingdom vocabulary and gospel value. There are stranger things in the world than feeding the hungry and loathing the hatred. There are stranger things in the world than rejoicing in God’s mercy and love, because it comes to us from Christ Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.