Brothers and sisters, today, during the reading of the Holy Scriptures, we heard of God's righteousness and mercy. We were told that we must seek righteousness in order to receive the mercy of God. We were told that the righteousness of man embraces living and dying for Christ. And, we were told how the righteousness of God may not appear to be fair at times.
During the First Reading from the Book of Isaiah that is found in the Old Testament, we heard of the Divine calling of the Lord God. Let the wicked forsake their way. Let the unrighteous forsake their thoughts. Return to the Lord! Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. [Is. 55:6]
How long must the love and patience of the Lord endure before His children will return to His holy ways? Why are some still refusing to return to the Lord? Is it because of the fear of not being forgiven? God is full of mercy! He will abundantly pardon the sincere repentant! "God is love." [1 Jn. 4:8, 16] "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love." [1 Jn. 4:18]
The human mind will never be able to fully perceive the depth of the love of God! Some believe that they do not need a daily relationship with Jesus in their lives. They believe that as long as they live good lives, they will be saved. As long as they teach their children what is morally right and wrong, they think that they will be saved. As long as they respect their neighbours, they think that they will be saved. How wrong they are! It is not enough to live a good life! Claiming to be wise, they became fools." [Rom. 1:22] "For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength." [1 Cor. 1:25]
The thoughts of God are not the thoughts of man. The ways of God are not the ways of man. As the heavens are higher than the earth, the ways of God are higher than the ways of man and the thoughts of God are higher than the thoughts of man. The way of God is spiritual; the way of man consist of being worldly minded. He is like the doubter. "The doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord." [Jas. 1:8]
During today's Second Reading, St. Paul spoke of the righteousness of man. It is to live and die for Christ. True righteousness is persevering in the profession of faith that one proclaimed during the Sacrament of Baptism. It is living with Christ, in Christ and through Christ, until one's last breath. Having done so, one will not be put to shame in any way because Christ will have been exalted in every actions, in life or in death.
When one has achieved by the grace of God the elevated state of spiritual growth that is most pleasing in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, then it can be said that such a person has walked with a spiritual mind. While still in the world, this person was detached from the world. At all times, he had Jesus on his mind. To him, it did not matter if he lived or died. Departing from this world would have been a preference in order to eternally be in the Divine presence of Jesus. But, for the sake of the others who still need to learn and grow in Christ, such a person accepted the Divine Will of God to remain in this world as a light, continuing to persevere for a little longer for the glory of the Lord.
Both, living and dying in Christ, is gain. If we live in Christ, we will receive the just reward that has been accredited to us for our charitable works by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. [1 Cor. 3:8] If we die for Christ, we will immediately rejoice in the Divine Presence of our Lord.
From today's reading of the Gospel of Matthew, we learned that God does not call everybody at the same time. Some are called early in life as the early labourers were called, having received their baptism as infants. Some were called as teenagers. Some were called during their married life and others, much later in life. And some are like the labourers who were called around five o'clock; their conversion took place at the hour.
Naturally, the ones who are called early in life as the early labourers have a lot more persevering to do than the ones who are called during their last hour as the labourers who were called at five o'clock. And that is okay! I am not saying it is okay because some have to persevere longer than others for their salvation. I am saying it is okay because the salvation of the late labourers means a beautiful united family in the eternal Kingdom of God. We should not be like the labourers and grumble. Rather, we should rejoice! Those who grumble, they have a worldly mind, demanding to be paid for every minute of their labour. Those who rejoice have a spiritual mind, seeking the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. That is the difference between those who grumble and those who do not. They are not of the same mind.
Truly, the righteousness of the Lord is not the righteousness of man. The Lord God gives to those that He pleases in the amount that He chooses. Is He not allowed to do what He wants with what belongs to Him?
The Lord God is just and fair in all His dealings with His children. No one will ever go unrewarded for his works that are accredited to him. While all become new creations of the godly seed during the Sacrament of Baptism, not all receive the bonuses that come from persevering in the faith. While all receive their salvation, those who gave their blood for Christ do not receive the same eternal reward as those who did not give their blood. Those who shined in spiritual works by the grace of God do not receive the same eternal reward as those who only go to Church once a year at Easter... if they will receive a reward.
In the Book of Daniel, we read, "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." [Dan. 12:4] The greater the works, the greater the reward. No one shall go unpaid for their works in Christ.
The reward of the Blessed Virgin Mary cannot be equalled to the rewards of the greatest saints of the Church. Nor can the reward of the greatest saints of the Church we equalled to the reward of the lesser saints. Those who gave their lives in the ministry of the Word of God or those who became Popes of the Holy Catholic Church to lead the faithful, surely, their rewards shall be greater than many Catholics.
Our reward is according to our spiritual works by the grace of God. If we have a heart that is disposed to serve the Lord, He will find spiritual work for us to do for the glory of His Kingdom. Seek righteousness and receive the mercy of God.
Keeping in mind what has just been said, there is a lesson to learn from this. If we want to shine like stars forever and ever, we should not ask what the Church can do for us, but rather, what can we do for the Church. Jesus did not place His angels on earth to evangelize. He placed us here, that is you and me, as lights in the world so that His glory may be manifested through us.
This week, let us reflect upon our Divine calling to evangelize. Let us ask ourselves, "What am I doing for the Church?" "How can I help bring other to the Church in the Name of Jesus?" "How can I help the Church to flourish by the power of the Holy Spirit so that the Heavenly Father will be pleased with my actions?"