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God is not fair

September 21, 2014

Laborers in the field
A reflection for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, year A, The readings are Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145 Philippians 1:20, 24, 27a and Matthew 20:1-16a

It’s not fair! Every time I hear that parable, the 6-year-old inside of me wants to scream, “no fair!” How is that fair? The guys who showed up at 5pm and worked for an hour, get paid the same as the guys who were there at 8 in the morning. It’s not right. And it makes me angry because we’ve all been there: You’re the most experienced and senior person at work and when there’s a new project (the project you’ve been looking forward to) or there’s a new big account, who gets it? The youngest, most inexperienced person at your work. Or you’re the best basketball player on your team and when the university scouts come, who gets the scholarship? Not the best player, but the tallest player.

It’s not fair. And especially as Christians. Christianity is the champion of human rights and social justice. We wouldn’t even have a concept of human rights or social justice; we wouldn’t have civil rights and even labour unions if it wasn’t for Christianity. So I don’t get this parable. The last shall be first and the first shall be last? I don’t get it. I guess that’s why God says through Isaiah in the first reading that his ways are not our ways. Not only are his ways not our ways, but his ways are better than ours: As high as the sky is above the earth, so high are God’s ways above our ways. There’s so much about God’s ways that we cannot comprehend. Today’s parable is one of them.
Unless we pay attention to the first sentence in the parable: “The Kingdom of God is like…” This parable is not about social justice or about pay equity; it’s not about union negotiations or labour relations. It’s about what it’s going to be like when we get to Heaven. It’s about what we need to do in order to get to Heaven.

And how do we get to Heaven? What do we have to do to get into Heaven? Nothing. There is nothing that we can do that will get us into Heaven. We get into Heaven because God is merciful and good. We are able to go to Heaven because God became a human being and Jesus Christ died for our sins. Because of His sacrifice on the Cross, we are able to be saved. Today’s Psalm says that the Lord is gracious and merciful. And it’s a good thing because if God was fair, none of us would make it into Heaven. We are able to go to Heaven because God is not fair; because God is good.

God is so good that His sacrifice on the Cross redeems everyone. Pope Francis got in trouble last year for saying exactly that – but it’s true. Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross redeems everyone, whether you believe in God or not, whether you’re a sinner or not – everyone, including Hitler was redeemed by Christ’s action on the Cross. It doesn’t mean that everyone will be saved, but salvation is available to everyone because of Christ. All we have to do is accept his salvation and respond to Him. If you find yourself in the marketplace of life waiting for direction, looking for the answers to life’s questions and Jesus invites you to his vineyard, you could say no. But all the labourers in today’s parable accepted the invitation. All we have to do is accept his invitation. And it doesn’t matter if you accepted it 20 years ago or if you accept it on your deathbed, as long as you do. For the Pharisees this was hard to understand. They were the chosen people and they followed the commandments. Each of them, personally and as a people had been following the commandments faithfully and they couldn’t accept that the gentiles could also be saved. And it’s true for us too. Some of you go to Mass every day and you pray the Rosary and go to Adoration and you live good lives. And we think that we’ll go to Heaven because we deserve it. But then someone who’s never believed in God, who cheated and stole all his life and was not a good person, at his deathbed has a conversion and accepts Jesus Christ; he repents and confesses. He too will be saved. And in Heaven, he will be standing right next to you. That’s hard to accept. But isn’t it a good thing? Isn’t it a good thing that God is good and merciful so that all of us can be saved?

Today, let’s accept that invitation. As you come up to receive the Eucharist, say yes to Jesus who died for you. Say yes to his salvation. Say thank you for his goodness. Don’t ever forget that God is good. God is so good to us. He is so good that He is not fair – He will do whatever He needs to do to make sure that we are all saved. He would rather die than to lose you. God is so good. Today, say thank you for the Lord is good.

You’re darn right it’s not fair. And that’s a good thing.

From → English, Reflections

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