I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble….
but we’re not in heaven.
Sometimes I wish I were already there….that we were all already there (I’m not selfish.)
Heaven is that place where God is…
where God exists in His fullness.
No sin. No corruption. No suffering. No death. No inequality.
Just perfect love….and peace in God’s care.
I’m reminded too often of late: earthly existence is flawed, imperfect.
Survival on this planet requires work….the sweat of our brow.
Living entails instability and uncertainty:
there’s Mother Nature, breathing down our necks
….with earthquakes, volcanoes, tornados, hurricanes, torrential storms, drought, lightning.
Then there’s people: good people and bad people; wise people and foolish people;
productive people and lazy people; friendly people and hateful and cruel people;
loving people and dangerous people.
The thought of it all, the experience of it all, makes me want to………………wonder.
And then I think of heaven….that place where everything will be made right.
I hope I’m headed in the right direction.
Can anyone tell me: is heaven this way…or is it that way?
That’s one of the reasons I’m here…in this place.
The way is shadowy and the path cluttered with obstacles.
It’s not uncommon to become disoriented….head away from instead of toward.
I find it necessary to pull out the spiritual compass, scrutinize my bearings
…correct my course.
Sometimes I succumb to the temptation: put life on automatic pilot.
There’s no such thing, you know.
The term “automatic pilot” is an oxymoron.
….a combination of contradictory words.
“To pilot”…means to steer, to intentionally impose a direction.
“Automatic” …means involuntary self-acting, spontaneous or unconscious acting.
Truer to the reality would be “computer pilot” or “mechanical pilot” or “non-human pilot”.
Either way…I relinquish the responsibility of control.
You’ve seen the license plate: “God is my copilot.”
Well, you better wake him up….because the way you’re driving
He’s obviously asleep.
A n y w a y…..where was I?
We’re not in heaven…but sure hope to get there someday.
You do know …it’s by invitation only….heaven that is.
You can’t get in if you’re not invited.
“Let it be known….if you can hear my voice…
speaking as a Church-appointed messenger….
you are invited by God to join him in heaven.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.
I’ve used my authority, my position
and imposed upon you….a responsibility.
You now have three options:
you can respond….”yes, I accept the invitation.”
you can respond….”I hear the invitation but choose not to respond at this time.”
Or…you can claim “I didn’t hear Monsignor Enzweiler say anything.”
Jesus stirs our hearts to thoughts of heaven.
Tells a “This is what it’s going to be like” story.
First of all we can note: the invitation in today’s parable comes five times.
Five times the landowner
travels from the comfort of his home, goes out of his way,
to round up….offer work and pay to the willing and available.
But wait a minute….there’s something else going on here….something messed up.
Jesus refers to a line.
All of heaven’s invitees are required to stand in line.
And it’s not going to be first come, first served.
Those who accepted His invitation first will be placed at the back of the line.
Those who accepted His invitation near the end of their day will be placed at the front.
I hope we all end up in this line.
But be forewarned:
if you decided to accept God’s invitation to heaven early in your life
you will find yourself near the end of the line.
And as you stand there….you will hear people complaining…..
Don’t give in to the temptation of grumbling….
to sing their song of protest
a song they’ve been practicing all their lives: “life isn’t fair.
I knew it. Even in heaven, life isn’t fair.”
And they’ll rally together, seek an audience with God,
level accusations of cheating and favoritism.
And they will mention the “E” word: equal.
“You have made them (over there…the last) equal to us (the first).”
(Under his breath God will say
“I should have never have created that word.
It’s causes nothing but trouble.”)
But to their faces God will say
“They have never been unequal to you….
yet through your life you have treated them so.
Remember Cain and Able?
Able was killed out of hatred and anger
because Cain misinterpreted the experience of “different” as meaning “unequal”.
And ever since sin entered the world,
the knowledge of “advantage” and “disadvantage”
has led to a misunderstanding of inequality….
has led to manipulation and exploitation
and many other violent expressions of willfulness:
the strong over the weak
the healthy over the sick
the gifted over the ordinary
the educated over the ignorant
the able over the disabled
the rich over the poor.
Heaven will be nothing like this. Heaven will be nothing like earth.
It stops at this gate.
Generosity and love are my response
to personal difference.
So get back in line
and celebrate my generosity
or take your discontent to a warmer climate.”
At least I think this is what God said to them….
it’s what I would have said.
We’ve got it wrong when we say
“death is the great equalizer. That’s when we’ll see that we are all the same.”
Jesus invites another consideration:
death isn’t the great equalizer…..conception is.
From the very start….we are all created equal.
From that moment we have a common dignity and common nobility.
Sin interferes with God’s created order and something is lost.
That something is beyond our limitations to recover.
Our Catholic teaching, our Catholic history makes a clear and strong statement,
a conviction that lies at the root of our faith:
we are saved, we will enter heaven, only by God’s generosity and not by our own merit.
“Merited salvation is an oxymoron.”
No, we’re not in heaven.
But we’re not in hell either….
though hell, I believe, is that place where there are no differences.
Most of us, however, sail through life on automatic pilot.
Jesus calls us to pilot our lives with intention….
stop using our assets to the advantage of ourselves
and to the disadvantage of others.
Stop being obsessed about what others get
and we don’t.
And stop using violence to get what we want
and to keep others from enjoying what they have.
Generosity and love
will bring a little bit of heaven
to our imperfect world.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble….