Sunday, February 01, 2015

Labourers of Love?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Septuagesima Sunday 2015

So the Kingdom of heaven is like this householder who pays everyone the same amount regardless of when he calls them. That seems straightforward. It looks like Our Lord is telling us that we should look at what we’ve been given, rather than what other people have been given. But He ends this parable with rather a surprising line: “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”

We can see when people get called to the work, but where in this parable do people get chosen? Surely, the only people who are being chosen are the people who answer the call and yet everyone seems to be called! Does that mean we are all chosen to be the kingdom of Heaven?

If this is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like, then what are we really being told?


What is the work that God wants us to do? We know that it is hard work otherwise it would not be described as labour. We know that we can receive a fair reward for our labours and we know that everyone gets the same reward for this labour no matter when they take it up. There can only be one labour that is appropriate for God and that is the labour of Love.

We know that love is hard work, especially when people sometimes go out of their way to make themselves unloveable, yet we still have to work at loving our neighbours as ourselves. Now we can do things for appearances, or we can do things for real.


Those that start early in the day believe that they are entitled to more because they have worked more than the others, but we know that this is not how Love works. St Paul tells us quite clearly that “Charity suffereth long , and is kind ; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself , is not puffed up.” It is not the work of love to quibble about receiving an agreed wage. The people come first are actively envying the pay of those who come last.

There are those who make a show of appearing to love, but do not really do so in their hearts. St Paul reminds us,” though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned , and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

This is the key thing. The ones who grumble at the fair wage of the other do not understand the reward of their labours. They miss the point. They have no love and so all their labour means absolutely nothing. Clearly God will only choose those who really do the work of love in their hearts for the Kingdom of God. Those who only feign love rule themselves out of the Kingdom of Heaven, because they have no real love.

God is love, and the reward of the labour of love is God Himself. You can’t expect more than God. Yet some people do, and that is why they will never know Who He is and will never see His Kingdom.

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