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Video from Fr. Steve reflects upon the generosity of God.

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An invitation to choose

For sixty years I have been unfaithful
but not for one second has this flowing toward me
ceased or slowed.
(Rumi, 1207-1273)

Envious of God—it’s a strange notion, isn’t it? Does any of us think that we envy God? It’s a question worth thinking about.
This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with a third parable in a row that challenges our thinking about the One who sent Jesus to be with us as one like ourselves.
All these parables invite us into the world of God’s kingdom; but in order to enter, we must entrust ourselves to this mysterious God whose thoughts and words are so different from ours.
There are two elements that we stumble over in this story from Matthew that we’re likely to miss. The first is one is that the vineyard owner never says that he needs more workers. He seems to be hiring them at all hours of the day simply because he finds them idle—no one else has hired them to work. The owner seems to realize that their families might not have enough to eat that evening if they don’t find work.
The second element we’re likely to stumble over is the grumbling of the first workers to be hired, those who agreed to the daily wage, those who “bore the heat of the day.” Why did they grumble? Because the owner, who was rich, could have paid them more, but instead paid them the same as everyone else. They are resentful both of his generosity to those hired late in the day, and resentful of what they perceive as his lack of generosity to them. Inside the world of the parable, their resentment makes perfect sense. But inside the world of God’s kingdom, one of abundance and generosity, their resentment makes no sense at all.
What the parable challenges so starkly is our notion of fairness. And perhaps this is the real scandal of these parables: God is not fair, not at all. God does what we think should never be done: God allows all manner of evils, both natural disasters and our own sinfulness. We want to see people pay their debts and get only what they deserve; but the God of Jesus is a generous, compassionate, and forgiving God, One who constantly invites us into a world of abundance, generosity, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
To live in God’s kingdom here on earth we need to relinquish our notions of what is fair and unfair. Life is neither fair nor unfair; life is only life, what it is. Like those in the parables of these last three weeks, we are invited to choose, either to live in a world of forgiveness, kindness, and generosity, or a world of unrepayable debts, rough justice, and stinginess.
If we choose God’s world, we need to start practicing right away.

Fr. Steve Lantry, S.J.

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