2017 Homilies (Written)

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Matthew 20:1-16a; 9-20-2020 (As Built; Amite #417)

 

  1. Judging, judging. 
  2. His name is Al. He is a banjo playing disciple. He loves to sing. Al was a composer. Al's a jailbird, let's just be honest, and the problem Al is having, albeit the 1930s, is that he doesn't play well with the other inmates. He's been kind of cast aside. He doesn't fit in. Okay, he's been ostracized, and it's more than just being made aloof. When, matter of fact, when they walk by Al, they'll make a comment, some may spit, some may be giving the proverbial brush by, some may literally push him. By the time he gets back to his cell, people will walk by and throw things in it. Al is being judged. He's being judged harshly. Be that as it may, he is where he is. As a matter of fact, he's decided that someday if I could just get the inmates to kind of understand me, I think he would work out better. He decides to put a band together. Of course, he'll play the banjo. He's got a couple others to help join him. He will actually sing a song and composes a song called Mother. Absolutely, without question, a huge flop, and when I tell you it tanked, it tanked. Matter of fact, he thought he got pushed back before, you think he got cursed before, maybe spit on, things thrown in his cell, nothing like it's happening now. Man, he's kind of concerned because things are getting a little sideways. Later that week, two cells down from Al, his friend starts to yell out in the middle of the night. He yells out, the guards yell back “Be quiet.” Next thing you know, he yells out again. They tell him to be quiet. He's screaming in pain, they tell him to be quiet. Al yells out for him, they tell him to be quiet. Man, next thing you know, that next morning they finally take him to the infirmary. Man, low as you would have it, bleeding ulcer. Dies in the infirmary. Man, the inmates are beside themselves, they have decided that they're going to have a strike, a sit-down strike. You work in the yard, sit down. You work in the laundry, you'll sit down. You work in the construction, sit down. You make the plates, you sit out, but the problem is every inmate knows you pull that game, you're going into solitary, no ifs ands or buts about it. Al can’t handle solitary, that's the problem, claustrophobic, can't deal with it. He goes on strike, he may not even make it out of solitary. As a result of such, he backs up from it. That night from 6 pm to 6 a.m. because Al knows what waits for him the next day, man, can I tell you they said he was shaking so bad that you could actually walk by and see the sheet pulled over his head, looks like the ripple in a wave in a sea in an ocean. They said you could hear him crying all night long. They said if you would go touch his sheet the next morning, sopping wet. Now I’m not here to judge Al, I’m not here to judge Al in his prior life. You know, at one time Alphonso held Chicago in the palm of his hand. At one time he was the greatest warlord they could have ever imagined and the greatest crime boss. He was the greatest bootlegger of his day. He dies 15 years later from venereal disease. I’m not here to judge that issue either, and you know him as Al Capone, but what happened to Al Capone is exactly, that is exactly what took place in that gospel. 
  3. Everybody's judging everybody, and everybody's judging the owner. How dare you spend your money like you'd like? I mean, it's your money, surely I can spend it like I would like. My brothers and sisters in Christ, now I need you to stop for a minute. You're a first century Jew. Matthew is the author of this gospel, he is the writer of the gospel, the good lord is the author. Every time he speaks, Matthew always has a propensity to speak towards money, he's a tax collector, he is a Jew, and he's also a Roman, and as a result of such, he has the privilege. As a result, he writes this about a parable the good lord says. Now, I want you to listen to the parable. The man goes out, and the way they kept time in the Roman day, in the day of Christ, was six am is the start of the day, the third hour is at nine, the sixth hour is at noon, the ninth hour is at three, and the twelfth hour is back at six pm. Now make sure you understand, he goes out of his vineyard and he goes into the marketplace at the break of day and says “I’ll pay you a denarii.” Remember, this is Matthew. He's the one that talked about ten thousand talents last weekend. A denarii is the size of a dime, that's what you get for a one day's work, a whole dime. He says if you go now, I’ll pay you. He notices nobody comes, and then he goes out again at nine o'clock, and then all of a sudden he pays them a dime too if they come and work. He goes out at noon, he comes back out at three, and then, last but not least, an hour before he says I’ll go one more time, and he comes and then when it's time to pay him, he pays starting with five o'clock, then three o'clock, then the noon, then nine, and then the early am hours. Now, my brothers and sisters in Christ, just stop for a minute. If you and I were to judge that owner, would you and I make the argument “Well, it's really not fair, you see, because I’ve been out there for 12 hours, I lived through the heat of the day, you gave me a denarii. I mean, maybe I could see the nine o'clock guys, but I gotta tell you start at noon, they should get half a denarii. I don't even wanna speak about what three o'clock, and as far as five o'clock, you shouldn't have even gone out and gotten them.” Every time you hear a parable, listen for the twist. What is it that doesn't seem logical? Is it logical for you and I to say that it's acceptable to pay a guy that shows up for one hour? It's going to take him 20 minutes to figure out what he's got to do, another 20 minutes find out where he's got to go. Well, man, you only got 20 minutes left to work. Now here is the point of the first reading, my ways are greater than your ways, my thoughts are greater than our thoughts, the distance is even greater than the distance from heaven to the earth. Now, you may think it was logical to complain and judge the owner, but here's the irony. The good lord is using this to talk about what it meant for him when he created the world. He's saying in the very beginning at 6 am, if you will, I brought Adam and Eve into the world, I brought people. At 9 am, I bring into the world Noah so that we can save families. At noon, I bring into the world Abraham to save nations. At three, I bring in Moses so that he can begin to save people, and then at five o'clock I sent my son into the world to save all the gentiles, that have been you and I. You and I are the five o'clock people, so therefore if we just judged and said we shouldn't get paid, he's saying the reason I came at five because if I don't come, you won't make heaven, it comes at six o'clock, so stop worrying at 6 am whether you made it. You made it, and as long as you made it, what difference does it make if I bring others in, whether it's at nine, noon, three, or I send my son into the world? That's why he's driving home the point why are you so envious, did you not make heaven? Then what is your complaint? It's your soul that I’m coming here for. What difference does it make if I decide to go back into the world and it costs me this so I can save even more of my lost children? Why are you judging me? My brothers and sisters in Christ, and if you listen to that last sentence, “Are you envious?”, every Jew that just heard that would have literally taken a step back and said “Did he just say what I thought he did?” “Why are you envious of what I’ve done?” Stop, the translation for a Jew when the good lord was speaking, he would have spoken Greek, but to the Jews it would have been in Aramaic. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he said “Did you look at me with an evil eye? Did you look at me through an evil eye?” Stop, go all the way back to Genesis in the Garden of Eden. Every Jew knows that when they see the tree, when they see the tree, they desire it, they become jealous and envious, and they want the tree even though God told them not to eat of it. Therefore, my brothers and sisters in Christ, this is how pride gets started. I see the tree, I want it. It will taste good. Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and at the end of the day it will make me wise like God. Pride is like a pitchfork, it has three times. That's why it's the table setter for all the seven deadly sins. He's saying if you commit the sin of judging me, then you are looking through the evil eye. This is where you and I get the term. You were looking at it through the eyes of Adam and Eve who got caught up in pride, and look where it landed them. My brothers and sisters in Christ, my brothers and sisters in Christ, listen to me. He's saying that if you judge, what difference will it be to me than Adam and Eve? 
  4. Everybody who judged Christ in scripture, go back and think, everybody who judged Christ. Herod the Great when they told him, they being the wise men, when they told him “Look, we have come there for the newborn king.” What is the title of King Herod? King of the Jews, so when they say we're looking for the newborn king of the Jews, he becomes beside himself, so much so he issues a proclamation that it must have taken about a year, year and a half for the wise men to make it. They come from Sheba in Serbia, from Persia. That's a year's journey at least, so now he issues a decree everybody from two years down must all be killed. He judges looking for Christ, he takes his own life as well as the life of his favorite wife, one of his sons, and all of his cabinet. He judged Christ, he took his own life. Pilate judges Christ and believes that by the mere washing of his hands, he's exonerated. Five to ten years later, he too will take his life arguing over the rights of water with the same Jews that asked him to condemn Christ. He too took his life. Herod Antipas, a relation to king Herod, when Pilate said he didn't want to judge him, they sent him to Antipas, Antipas sends him back to Pilate, Antipas takes his own life, and then Judas, the coup de grace, Judas it had been better you never been born. He called him the son of perdition. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he hangs himself. Everybody who judges Christ takes condemnation upon themselves. My brothers and sisters in Christ, the whole point of the gospel and the readings all the way back from Isaiah, to Saint Paul, to the good lord speaking through Matthew, judging is only left for the good lord. Remember this, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and don't forget. When you and I judge people, we've made two fatal mistakes. One, we have literally told the good lord “Step away, Lord, I got this. I was there in the beginning, I helped you create the world, I did it so in six days, I rested with you, I know everybody's name in their mother's womb, I know every option that they may have had, I know every decision they made, I know everything about the information, I can judge them.” That's our first mistake. We've made ourselves an equal with God, not to mention the condemnation of the judgment itself, and then the second biggest mistake is that we will now be judged as an equal. That means it's just not you and our sins going back and forth, we're now going to be judged on how we judged others as in the shoes of God. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you know they say that purgatory has seven levels. I think it's seven because the Jews believe that's the most complete number of the world, seven days of creation, seven years to build the temple. The bottom level of purgatory, they say, is where most priests and religious land because they have more understanding. The bar has been raised. Well, let me help you, there's going to be plenty of room down there for everybody who also has judged because you have now raised the bar. You have made yourself an equal to God. 
  5. My brothers and sisters in Christ, think about it. How many times it works have you gone somewhere, got a cup of coffee, just having a cup of coffee, and we're judging our co-workers, our boss, the people that come, the people that go, how many times do we judge him just flippingly? I can't believe he did that, or she did that. I can't believe he's doing this, I don't understand what they're doing. Those little statements are sin, and now that you begin to share it and begin to bear false witness, which is against the eighth commandment, and you do so in such a manner that you keep going to the well, well let me tell you what I think about him, well let me tell you why I think that's wrong, every time you and I step out and judge our neighbor, the condemnation and the bar begins to rise. Why? Because we're going against the commandment love God and love your neighbor. When you bear false witness against your neighbor, it has very little to do with whether you're telling the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God. That wasn't the point. Bearing false witness means you and I are not true witnesses to Jesus Christ and therefore we do not believe in love of neighbor. Love of neighbor means you don't judge, which means at the end of the day you don't know the options they had to pull from, you don't know the background, so therefore if you bear false witness and condemn your neighbor, your boss, your coworker, your parents, your children, my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially spouses, be careful about judging your spouse. When you get to work and you spread that venom about what has happened at night because I can assure you people there will not forget, and then when you go home and things are better and apologies are made, nobody goes back to work and tells everybody that they just bad mouthed, it's all better now. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I’m telling you, guard your lips, especially about your spouse, about your children. Children, guard your lips about your parents. My brothers and sisters in Christ, they put clothes on your back, a roof overhead, they educate you, and we're still the best country in the world, call it what you will, but I don't see anybody leaving the United States, as many as those that are coming to go live in another country. My brothers and sisters in Christ, when you and I judge, we have brought condemnation not on them but on ourselves. Remember, when we pass an opinion on somebody, the opinion that's going to stick is the one that's going to be made on us. My friends in Christ, you know it's amazing. Some of the people that you think should have no reason to be nice, sometimes we're nicer to total strangers than we are to our own family. How many times we have a bad day and the first person that gets shot is the first person we see of our family? It's reprehensible and it's got to stop. I don't want to hear about the world and how it got the best of you because we're shooting the same people over, and over, and over again. 
  6. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I leave you with this. Before you judge somebody, don't. Just don't. 
  7. Amen.

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