Friends of Jesus
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Like the landowner in today’s Gospel, our heavenly Father goes out time after time, hour by hour, to beckon us into His Church; to summon us to return to His home; and to urge us to tend His harvest, just as He first created us to do. Time after time, our Father calls us to Himself. First He uses patriarchs; then prophets; then John the Baptist; then the holy Apostles. And now, in these last days, He issues His loving invitation through pastors. Through these preachers, and through faithful parents, teachers, and neighbors, our Father continues to extend His mercy. No one can question His persistence. No one can say that He’s not done enough.
Yet sinners still grumble. The grumbling says that our benevolent Master has not been generous enough. The grumbling insists that we, who deserve nothing, deserve more. And so we grumble, complain, moan and whine: the language of the dissatisfied, the ungrateful, the lazy, the complacent. Often we hear it from our neighbors. Too often, the mouth that produces such grating and annoying noise is our own. We are like those workers: we believe that the Father is dealing with us, not out of mercy, but out of justice. And we want our just desserts. We demand fair treatment. We insist that the Lord study our case, confident that He will conclude that He should give us even more.
Beware of what you demand from the Lord. Beware of being your own lawyer, especially in the Lord’s field. A vineyard is not where lawyers practice; a church is not a courthouse; and demanding justice and fairness requires that sympathy and mercy be set aside. And beware of turning your Father into your Judge. After all, He has already made a judgment on your behalf: a judgment to sacrifice His Son and, for the sake of His Son’s sacrifice, to set aside your sin. He has already judged that, to save your life, to save your soul, He must not deal with you as is just and righteous. Instead, to save you, He must have mercy.
So let us consider the mercy of Our Father. He gives this mercy to us through His Son by the power of His Holy Spirit. Let us consider this generous work that the Trinity has performed for our salvation, work that our God continues to perform in us so that we might not lose what He has given. He gives us this undeserved gift so that He might return us to the kingdom that we walked away from.
Let us consider the mercy of our great God and Savior, how full and rich it is. His mercy gives us our daily bread. His mercy blesses us with home and family. His mercy leads Him to call us “friend,” even while we were yet His enemies. His mercy wards off the devil and delivers us from evil. His mercy washes us clean in His watered blood in Holy Baptism. His mercy feeds us the medicine of immortality in His own body and blood.
As we consider this mercy from the hand of our Lord, let us be grateful, not only in word, but also in deed. Let us be grateful to the extent that we strive earnestly to imitate His mercy. Let us demonstrate our gratitude by being merciful, just as our Father in heaven is merciful. Let us not exact our pound of flesh from whoever angers us; let us not insist that they pay for how they’ve hurt us. Instead, let us imitate the Lord’s mercy by being slow to anger, quick to forgive, and generous with words of kindness and deeds of love. Most of all, let us imitate Our Lord’s mercy by sacrificing ourselves—our desires, our goods, even our lives—so that our neighbor would see in us and receive from us same the mercy that we have received from our heavenly Father. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.