Today is a day of reckoning, a day of settling accounts.
I'm calling in all my markers....right here, right now.
If you owe me any money, please step forward and settle the matter.
Huh…no one owes me any money.
If you have ever said to me
"I owe you one Msgr." or “thanks Msgr., IOU big!"
please step forward now and settle the matter.
Huh…no one owes me one or owes me big.
Now you may be thinking:
"Monsignor, why today? Why call in your accounts now?
This isn’t a good time….with the economy and all: unemployment, foreclosures.
Now’s just not a good time. Why did you pick now?"
I picked today simply because I wanted to...and no other reason.
To be truthful, I don’t need cash...at the moment.
I don’t need a favor...at the moment.
I have the right, don’t I?
I’m entitled to collect what is owed to me.
If you owe me something,
I am not out of bounds in my expectation of reckoning if I ask you to “pay up”.
My motivation is somewhat altruistic.
I’m thinking of your good.
I would hate for you to have sleepless nights
or a disturbed , restless spirit
because of an unpaid debt to me.
…but this isn’t going as well as I expected.
Let’s try another approach:
if I owe you any money please step forward
and state your claim; I’ll pay what is due.
If I owe you one….or owe you big…
if I've ever said to you "I'm in your debt"
please, step forward so I can settle my account.
...still no takers.
I once told my niece, who was 8 months old,
I was holding her...and she started to cry.
I said to her: “I’ll take you on a cruise for your 18th b-day
if you stop crying.” She stopped crying.
She is now 22...and I still owe her that cruise.
I’m hoping she forgot.
It’s kind of funny:
when someone owes us….we never let them forget.
When we owe someone...we pray for their mind to slip into forgetfulness.
Well, I’m going to make this easy.
If you owe me anything, anything what so ever, I hereby cancel the debt.
It is expunged, deleted, wiped out.
I’ve erased the whole affair from my memory.
You’re off the hook.
I’m even willing to go the extra mile…
above and beyond the call of reason.
If you owe someone else, and feel burdened by the obligation
just ask me, and I’ll pay the debt for you.
I’ll take your load upon my shoulders.
This whole notion of debts...of making deals, obligating ourselves to repayment,
paying off what we owe, or collecting what is our due,
has been part of human interaction from before remembered history.
And in case you may have forgotten...
it has a place in our theology...our understanding of God.
As much as we downplay this: we are all indebted to God.
We owe God big time.
Everyone. Take your right hand. Put it in a fist.
They say that our heart is the size of our fist.
OK. Now open your fist...and close it again.
Image that is your heart beating.
Don’t stop...we don’t want our hearts to stop.
Getting kinda tired…sore.
Let’s say the average human heart beats 60 times a minute.
3600 times an hour.
86,400 times a day.
2,592,000 times a month
31,104,000 a year.
If you live to be 80 years old that adds up to 2,488,320,000 times….beats.
Who gave you that heart? Who keeps in going?
Yeah. We owe God big time.
And when does God have the right to collect what he is owed?
Anytime! And God isn’t obligated to tell us.
He is not required to send an advanced notice.
We can plead our cause... “God, this isn’t such a good time.
Can you come back later?”
If you can convince God, you’re a better person than I am.
I have a feeling that God is going to be somewhat like my parents.
I lived at home until I was 25…that’s when I entered seminary.
Prior to that, when I finally landed a steady job.
I started paying my parents rent. They didn’t ask but then they didn’t refuse.
When I was ordained at 30 years old
I received from my parents: a check for about $4000.
They kept tally of all the rent I paid
...and gave the sum back to me as an ordination gift.
They didn’t have to do this...but it surely brought delight and joy to my heart.
I’m thinking that God might do something similar.
The tenants in today’s parable
refused to honor their agreed upon obligations. They came to a wretched end.
The chief priests and elders of the Hebrew people,
for whatever reason,
rebuffed God’s attempts to collect the rent, so to speak.
They destroyed, dispatched God’s messengers
so they wouldn’t have to listen to them any longer...
so they wouldn’t have to be reminded of their refusal to submit to,
let alone their refusal to acknowledge, the debt.
The Kingdom of God was taken away from them.
What do we owe God ...the owner of the stars?
What do you owe to someone who has everything?
The Old Testament obligation was 10 %.
And not just any 10%.
The 10% OT obligation had to be the “first fruitsâ€....
....the best of the harvest....the best livestock.
Sometimes the eldest son was dedicated to the work of God.
In the first Christian churches, everything was given,
everything was put at the disposal of the community.
Today....it seems to be somewhat indeterminate....
almost to the point of forgetting we owe God anything.
What do we owe God?
We owe God a portion of the fruitfulness of our lives.
Of the 2,488,320,000 heartbeats
God wants a portion...
at 10% that would be 248,320,000 heartbeats....
and 248,320,000 of our best heartbeats.
If our heart beats at 60, then that’s 4,139,000 minutes of life
that’s 69,000 hours
which is 2874 days
7.87 years of our lives....the best 7.87 years.
Now this is just an approximation.
Your debt to God may be greater or lesser
depending upon when you said
“You will be my God. I will be your people.â€
You did say “You will be my God. I will be your peopleâ€...didn’t you?
If you’ve never said that....then I think you’re off the hook.
But then, this is a hook you probably want to be on.
If I owe you any money...or you owe me any favors...
the payment of such debts doesn’t amount to much:
kindness and friendship if paid
ill will and a few curse words if not paid.
What we owe God is of the greatest importance.
Regarding this matter, Jesus sends the message:
sponges come to a wretched end.
A “sponge” is what we used to call someone who takes
but never gives back....who accepts but never offers.
Don’t be a Christian sponge. Be a fruitful vine.
And don't resent God when he knocks at the door
to collect what He's owed.
It's all part of His plan. And it is a matter of justice.
Be aware. Be mindful.
Our existence is not a "free for all".
There is a difference between being generous and fulfilling an obligation.
Giving to God what we owe him is an obligation.
His demands do not make Him an enemy.
God expects something in return for the 2,488,320,000 heartbeats.
Unfulfilled obligations can lead to eviction from the Kingdom.
Always remember: every seat in this church has an ejection button.
Our life belongs to God.
It is not an entitlement. It is a gift.
And the giver of the gift expects fruitfulness in return.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today is a day of reckoning, a day of settling accounts.