Today Jesus reminds us that we are privileged to belong to the kingdom of God and to work for that kingdom without complaining or feeling entitled; the big sin of this generation. The generous Lord and Creator opens up the way from this earthly life to heavenly life and generously connects everyone together for the good of all. Ireland is no longer considered a leader and model of Christian life and behaviour. Today we are to learn from others and not expect special rewards for how we used to be.
Occasionally I get communications from ACN, Aid to Church in Need,
an organisation which publicises news about Catholics who are persecuted worldwide. You may have heard of the ancient Chaldean Catholic community from the Nineveh plains in Iraq. They speak the same language as Jesus himself and their wonderful churches were architectural masterpieces. Then disaster struck. Mobs broke into their homes and churches, destroyed statues, stained-glass windows, sacred vessels and vestments and reduced the buildings to rubble. They ask for friendship and advice as they begin again to build up the kingdom of God in their own country. You and I do not know these fellow Christians personally, but we would want to support them as they come back home to rebuild. They say to us: In the past did you Irish not bear the heat of the day of persecution? You were proud to begin again and again grateful for the gift of faith? There are rumours today that Ireland has grown weak in faith, that you welcome abortion, redefine marriage and use immoral means to solve medical problems. Now is your eleventh hour! What can you tell us about the limitations of the use of force in resistance to hatred and desecration? Did you not rely on publicising the injustice, on making strong alliances, on asking for practical help, on praying together for the strength to persevere?
Let us both turn to Jesus who in today’s parable says: It may be late in the day but it will not matter what hour you turn up. It may be to help those Iraqi refugees returning home. Your contribution may be small but it is welcome and you will get the reward of eternal life if you answer God’s call.
At home it is never too late to learn how to present the faith in an honest direct way without judging others too severely. It is never too late to come to help the deprived in our own parish, or those who are sick and in need of care, or the unemployed. Jesus teaches that there will be frontline workers, recognisable leaders, and then ourselves who may seem to do very little on the vast scale of things. But Jesus wants us to work with him as best we can. We all belong, we are valued and our contribution is accepted and the Lord will complete the work even if we do not see so immediately. Whether we are latecomers or regular workers each of us can use our talents and abilities for the benefit of others, doing our bit for the kingdom of God.
It is a day for positivity. Isn’t it wonderful to be involved in God’s work on this earth? Isn’t it sensible to be appreciative of our fellow workers? God offers everyone a chance to get to heaven. Be glad when someone sneaks in at the last moment. No matter when we begin it is a privilege to work together in harmony happily completing our own tasks and responsibilities. In the confusion of modern living we can learn to co-operate faithfully and gratefully in God’s eternal plan which brings us together with Christians at home and at the far side of the earth. In our hour of need we can learn from their strong faith and from their courage how to bring our own country back to walk on the Christian way. The gospel advises us to be thankful for a Creator God who will complete whatever work we are given to do.