We Hold On – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily September 20, 2020

“There is a certain way of how to catch a monkey and they said that to catch a monkey you have to get a jar, a jar that’s big enough where he can fit his hand in, but small enough that if his fist is there he can’t grab it out. So you fill this jar with rocks so it’s heavy and then you put treats in there and then you put the rocks in and you let the monkey come and so the monkey will come and he will stick his hand in this jar and he’ll grab a treat, but his fist grabbing on to the treat he can’t get it out and so he’s stuck, but the thing is is he won’t let go so then you can just pick up the monkey and you have the monkey. Now, you’re wondering…how does this have to do with anything about the Gospel. Well let me try…

Oftentimes we hold on to our thoughts, the way the world is, the way we do things. We think it should be this way and we hold on to it so tightly, so tightly that it would even sometimes kill us. Another image I see again is a hand grasping at sand. When we try the very action of grabbing we lose the sand in our hands. The very action of grasping at it, but the only way to have it is to leave your hands open and to be given it and so too is the Kingdom of Heaven I believe. In our Gospel today it’s the land owner and the first reaction to this parable is, ‘Well this isn’t fair.’ Did you have that reaction? It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem just. How is it that the person who worked all day long in the heat gets paid the same amount as the person who works an hour in the evening, but you know the parables are supposed to shake the way we think. It’s supposed to kind of upset you and if you have that then concentrate on it because that’s the point of the parable. In the parable he clearly puts the last people first so that the first people can see and then their reaction is our lesson because the thing is is that it is just. That’s what he says, ‘Did I not give you what we agreed on?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Then why can I not give of my own to this person?’ The big thing for us is what’s fair, what’s just, but this is just, but the thing is is there’s great mercy within it. Our first reading today shows us that our ways are not the ways of God and his ways are not ours and that’s what it says. It’s amazing because in Isaiah it speaks about how close the Lord is to us, how we should come to him and yet how distant our thoughts, our ways are from Him. It’s the paradox of how close we are to Him that we can have a relationship with Him, but how so different we are. Another image of this could also be of when we were children. When we are children we think our parents are punishing us when we have to eat our broccoli or if we have to go to sleep early or we have to do these things. We don’t understand it, do we? And we might fight, but as a child we don’t understand. We can’t see what they’re doing. We see it as unjust, but as adults you know clearly what the parents are doing. That is the same with us and God that whatever goes on in our lives, maybe we’re seeing it wrong that we don’t have it the right way maybe that maybe God’s ways are different than ours and His thoughts are different than ours, but we hold on to our own thoughts, our own ways until we have to let go, don’t we? So what do we do? What do we do with it? If we know our ways are not God’s ways and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, but how do we get out of that cycle of doing it? Christ always talks to us about getting things into the light and just as much as in the first reading he says, ‘Come to me.’ and that’s what you’re doing right now in the sacrifice of the Mass, but in every time you pray you come to Him as you are not where we think we should be, but just where we are right now and shine things into the light with Him. Let His mercy and love wash over you just receive it, but it takes time. It takes time to let go, so if you’re anxious about the world today, come to the Lord. Lay it down at his feet. If you’re angry then come to the Lord. Be angry at the Lord, but he says, ‘Just come to me.’ If you’re suffering and you’re sad, come to Him because again, our ways are not the ways of God and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, but if we open our self up to Him amazing things will happen. So as you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you in the Eucharist let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and the courage to come as we are to Him, to lay our lives, our thoughts, our actions at His foot and let His love and mercy wash over us. Amen.”