This passage is a parable for the Kingdom of God. The hearers of this Gospel passage would have been Jews who had been faithful (to some degree or another) throughout their whole lives. They were proud of their Jewish heritage, their traditions, their worship, and their status. They could not imagine that the Messiah would invite gentiles to his flock. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he told his disciples to go out to the whole world to teach, preach, and baptize, regardless of a Jewish or gentile birth.
The Sadducees and Pharisees would have been offended by the language of Saint Paul:
“All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.”
But this is exactly what Christ’s parable would have meant to his followers. They ought not be jealous of God’s extravagant mercy.
It was not the Sadducees and Pharisees or even Moses himself who called the Jews to be workers in the vineyard. It is God who calls each. It is God who decides the just wage. Every person is treated with justice and mercy in the passage of the workers in the vineyard. Every person, no matter the hour that they began, is welcome in the Kingdom of God.
In our own day, more and more people are coming at the later hours. They are recognizing that the truth offered by the world is no truth at all. Christ invites all into his vineyard; it doesn’t matter what they were doing in the hours before. It is only Christ’s invitation that matters.
The promise that the sexual revolution offers is a promise that is laden with guilt, fear, and famine. Many people have bought into the lies of contraception, pornography, and sexual addiction that have only left them with spiritual anorexia. People are beginning to realize the dignity of the human person, including their own dignity, that cannot be lost.
Saint John Paul II brought about a different kind of sexual revolution in his teaching on the Theology of the Body. In this teaching, we learn how every person has an innate dignity. We learn that the body isn’t just an object for use, but a means for communicating divine. The realization that it is Christ’s own Body that hangs on the cross as the means of salvation shows God’s plan for the human person. In the end, Christ is really risen and promises us the resurrection of our bodies too. There is a great dignity that all are called to discover.
Many people have come to the vineyard at the later hour. Many will continue to come. It is our responsibility to welcome them into the vineyard with open arms. Christ himself welcomes all with open arms. His mercy is for each of us and for every person who comes to the vineyard. We should prepare and equip ourselves to welcome people into the vineyard.
Finally, we should be unafraid to invite people to the vineyard. Christ’s mercy is available.
To download a PDF version of this homily, click here: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Father Daniel Good, JCL is parochial vicar at Christ the King in Daphne, AL. He is Defender of the Bond and Promoter of Justice in the Metropolitan Tribunal in Mobile. He has attended TOB 1 in 2007, TOB 2 in 2011, Love and Responsibility in 2012, and participated in the clergy enrichment program in various ways. Fr. Dan has also been chaplain for TOB 1 and the Way of Beauty Course.