I remember back when I was growing there was an older man who lived near where my father grew up. This man lived in the woods and was an alcoholic. He lived in a small cabin where he would drink for part of the day and then start walking and stop in a people’s houses along his route and talk for a while and then continue on. Everyone knew him and was very generous to him, often feeding him meals when he stopped by the house. The interesting and kind of sad thing was that when he was sober, he was the kindest, nicest person you would want to meet.
One day, the man fell ill and ended up in the hospital. Everyone knew this would be his last days and so he had a lot of visitors coming by to say goodbye. Unfortunately there was no family around to be with him. However, a priest came by the visit during those last few days, and they had a number of talks where the man was able to unburden himself and come to terms with his life, and in the end he came to Jesus, and found peace in a new found relationship with God. Finally, after so many years he found God and the peace he so longed to have.
I feel as though this story is precisely what this week’s gospel passage is referring to. It is the desire for God and the need to keep seeking God right to the very end. I remember the joy that people felt knowing that the man found God at the end of his life. I distinctly recall my father speaking to someone about how it was such a peaceful experience as the man found the peace of Christ in his life. Occasionally you hear a prayer which ends with asking God for a happy death, this seemed to me to be a happy death.
In the reading today, Jesus teaches us that we must overcome jealousy and envy. This is brought out in today’s parable of the labourers who come to work at different times of the day, but receive the same salary. Those who came at the first hour grumbled against the landowner. “He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you… Are you envious because I am generous?’
The generosity of our Lord is beyond measure and understanding. We are called at the same time to not be generous or envious when someone comes to the Lord, even if it is later in their life, and we have been a faithful follower of Jesus for many years previous. Jesus is speaking to the people of Israel in this parable, he is teaching that the kingdom of is for the gentiles as well. And for us, he is saying that the kingdom of God is for everyone, and anyone we encounter.
God bless you all
Deacon Dan MacDonald