Bishop Gumbleton on the Last shall be First

Bishop Gumbleton, a long-time promoter of peace and justice, writes a regular blog on the National Catholic Reporter website. Last Sunday he preached a homily on the parable from Matthew’s Gospel about the landowner who appears to reward his servants unfairly by giving equal amounts to all, irrespective of length of service. Not a good HR policy, one would have thought.

In his commentary Bishop Gumbleton points out that the text reflects the situation in Matthew’s community where there were some recent converts to the Way of Jesus. Matthew was saying to them, “you are not second-class citizens in this community”. It is the fundamental equality of Christianity.

However, the real gem in the homily is the message about God’s abundance and, indeed, the abundance of the universe itself. Here are Bishop Gumbleton’s words:

See, everything is free from God; we don’t earn it, although often I’m convinced, we think we earn it. There’s part of a letter that John wrote to the first Christian communities that I think is very important to think about at this point. John is saying to the first Christians: “My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. And how did the love of God appear among us? God sent God’s only son into the world, and this is love. Not that we loved God, but that God first loved us.”

Everything is God’s gift. Our whole universe, loved into being by God. Every one of us, loved into existence by God.

Everything we have is gift, and yet we still somehow think we’ve earned what God gives to us and that is so wrong. It’s all a gift.

What a life-affirming and uplifting message for all who struggle daily for a better world. All is gift. Julian of Norwich would have approved.

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