“Are you envious because I am generous?” Matthew 20:16
“Life is not fair!” How many times have we heard this madding phrase? I use to hear it more often when I would start whining about how unfair life was being to me. As I grew up, I realized that no one really cared hearing about how unjust life had been to me. Yet, it took a long time before I realized that human fairness and Divine Mercy are very different, very different indeed!
The Mass readings for this week help us reflect upon how easy it is for us to feel sorry for ourselves, even when we are at fault. The Old Testament readings takes us through the trials and tribulations of the Israelites as recorded in the Book of Judges. God sends good leaders, but the people soon forget God’s ways and they choose bad leaders. But God does not abandon them. While the people of God are unfaithful, God is faithful.
The Gospel Readings deal with Jesus’ invitation to see things with the heart and eyes of God: mercy, compassion and generosity. On Monday, we read: “If you wish to be perfect, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come and follow me.” On Tuesday, Jesus answers the question posed by the apostles as to whom can be saved: “For people this is impossible, but for God, all things are possible.” Then today, we read about the generosity of the landowner who wants to make sure everyone has a living wage, no matter if they came late into the vineyard. Jesus ends up by saying the same thing he said in yesterday’s Gospel, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” This just doesn’t seem fair to our human way of thinking!
The Scriptures, and especially the Gospels, are not about making us more human. They are about making us more Divine. Some of us carry hearts of stone, and God wants to replace them with hearts of flesh. Some of us want people to suffer what we have suffered, but the Suffering Jesus wants us to have loving, forgiving hearts. Some of us are more concerned about how we work so hard, and have so little, while others seem to be so well off, because they are unjust and dishonest. Yet, we forget that God sees into our very hearts and knows “when we sit and when we stand,” to quote Psalm 139.
We should never forget that no one can fool God. We only fool ourselves.
Nor should we forget that God will never abandon us. God is there when we are unfaithful and unjust. God is there when we are merciful and generous. God will always be with us until the end of time.
God’s generosity will always trump the easy and facile answers we have to our selfish questions. For Our God is Good. Our God is Kind and Merciful!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.