The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
September 20, 2020 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 20:1-16a
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
What is the most common complaint of young children to their parents? Having been a parent for not a few children, my guess is the following> THAT’S NOT FAIR! I must have heard that sentence a thousand times. And my answer? LIFE’S NOT FAIR. GET OVER IT! Or something like that.
Most of those who are reading this Nazareth Page are quite familiar with today’s gospel. It’s a story Jesus told about a fellow who hired some workers for his vineyard in the morning, then a few more in the afternoon and finally a group right before work stopped at the end of the day. Then, all the workers that day were paid the same exact amount. “Not fair” hollered those who were hired early in the day. They felt that deserved more although when they agreed to work that day, they had agreed to what was to be given to them at the end of the day.
What’s Jesus talking about then? Doesn’t he know about the social teachings of the Church about just wages?
I’m sure he does, but this story is not about economic equality. Rather it’s about God’s generosity. God’s ways are not ours. They are better than ours. In the end, God’s love for us is way beyond calculation. That’s just the way it is.
In that sense God’s love and mercy far exceeds God’s justice. We may feel more comfortable with a God of simple justice, but that’s not how God acts. I once read that God is crazy about us. While that’s not exactly biblical or theological language, it is close to the truth.
When Jesus gave his life for us, he did this not because God owed us that in justice. If only the scales of justice were involved, Jesus would not have done what he did. But, as we all know (and may not fully understand), God’s love of us is a gift. A free gift. We don’t earn it (with even a full day’s labor) but are simply loved, no matter who we are or no matter how deserving we might be.
This story of the workers in the vineyard might make us a little uncomfortable. How can we react to such generosity on God’s part? The answer is simple. Be grateful. That’s what God hopes for.
©David M. Thomas, PhD