A sermon on Matthew 21:33-43
Fr. Mike Paraniuk
By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church (Hillsboro)
St. Benignus Catholic Church (Greenfield)
Saint Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church (Peebles)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (West Union)
A very successful builder of rich homes was getting older and wanted to enjoy the fruits of his labors. He informed his top manager that he was going to retire. Before leaving for Florida, he gave these instructions to the manager. “I want you to build me a home, the finest home this company has ever built. Spare no expense, use the finest materials, employ the most gifted tradesmen, and build me a masterpiece home before I come back next spring.”
The manager freaked out. "By next spring, I won't have a job. What am I going to do?"
This is what he did. The boss gave him money to buy the finest of everything. Instead, he bought the cheapest of everything and kept the difference. He bought inferior blocks and lumber, claiming they were premium. The manager hired inexperienced carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roofers and landscapers. The windows were drafty, the insulation was inadequate, and the carpets would begin to wear out in a year. He didn't care as he watched his bank account grow by thousands of dollars.
When spring came the home was finished. It looked spectacular but was a disaster waiting to happen. Already the roof was leaking. The boss arrived anxious to tour the house. He found it beautiful. He thanked the manager for a job well done, unaware the house was built with the cheapest of everything.
The manager thanked the boss for the privilege of working for him. He handed the boss the keys to the house wishing him well in retirement. The boss said, "My friend, you thought you were building this house for me. You are wrong. I had this house built for you in gratitude for your years of service." The boss put the keys back into the manager's hand, saying with a smile, "Enjoy your new home."
In the Gospel from Matthew, the vineyard is the kingdom of God on earth. God entrusted the tenants to make a fruitful vineyard just like the boss entrusted the manager to build a good house. I believe God gives each of us are own vineyard. He entrusts to you a piece of His Kingdom here on earth to care for it. He wants you to build a beautiful home for Him. How do you do this? You build up and make fruitful your part of God's Kingdom when you do the work God calls you to do with faith, generosity and sacrifice. Faith means you do everything in your life to please God and make Him happy. Generosity means giving your all to God. Sacrifice means giving up for God.
What does caring for your part of God's kingdom look like in everyday life. It looks like a sleep deprived mother getting up at 2:30 in the morning to feed her hungry baby. It looks like a dad going to work with holes in his shoes so his kids won't have holes in theirs. It is the soldier in a faraway place giving up the happiness of home to protect the happiness of others in their homes. It looks like doctors, nurses, teachers, policemen and firefighters who give up part of their life to care for your life.
You especially care for God's kingdom when you give a dog or cat or a human being a forever home. God tells us in Matthew 25:35-36 the fruits he wants from you. "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."
Both the wicked tenants and the dishonest manager cheated. When you cheat God you really cheat yourself. The manager cheated himself out of a nice house. The tenants cheated themselves out of life itself. You cheat God when you fail to do what He asks of you. The greatest fruit God asks from you is love. Every act of love you do builds up that part of the Kingdom He entrusted to you. True love does not seek anything in return. The joy of love is in the giving which creates its own reward.
Start your day with this simple prayer, "God, who do you want me to love today and show me how to do it."