Happy 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time!
“The generous master.”
“All men are created equal.” Or, better, “All people are created equal.” This American ideal was articulated at the start of our nation, but it has raised as many questions as it has brought about answers. In what ways are all created equal? Did that include slaves, or women, or people who didn’t fit into stereotypes? Does equality mean we all get the same thing, that no one is richer or smarter than anyone else? Does it mean that everyone has enough?
The parable that Jesus presents disturbs us today as much as it disturbed the people of his own time. One its face it seems so unjust, that people were working throughout the day and they get the same wage as people who just started working a few hours ago. One of the biggest questions we face as a society is who is deserving? Should the unemployed get money for not working? Should the one percent keep getting richer while no one else is getting richer? Should people be treated in the hospital just because they are sick?
Jesus gives us this parable not to talk about equality so much to talk about the generosity of God. That’s the question which the Master throw back at the grumbling people: have I been unjust to you or are you just resentful because I am generous. Wherever we see ourselves in this parable, do we see ourselves as objects of the unmerited generosity of God?
After all, what does God have to give us? What is the pay that God wants to give to his faithful? Although many people erroneously think God’s blessings show themselves in big houses and cars, the fact is that God wants to give us only one reality: a relationship with God so grounded that it will never come to an end. A relationship with God so expansive that it comes to include everyone who is open to it. God wants to give us the Kingdom, the fullness of life and love.
We see a bit of this in Paul’s struggle, whether to die and be with the Lord or whether to continue doing ministry. Ultimately he sees both of these as aspects of the same relationship he has come to have with Jesus. He may get fatigued or even frustrated doing his mission, but doing his mission is what brings him joy because it allows others to see the richness of God’s love and life.
Often we feel cheated by life; sometimes we may even say we feel cheated by God. We all can seem like the grumbling workers in the Gospel today. But Jesus invites us to think about life not from what we feel is missing but from everything that we’ve been given, from the point of view of God’s generosity. Everyone of us has been graced by God; everyone of us has been infinitely loved. Everyone of us has been called into a special relationship with God. Rather than having little, the fact is, when we think of it, we have more than we can ever imagine or deserve.
Often politics appeals to the part of us that feels that we are being picked on, ignored, or cheated. Political conversation can center on grievances and be fueled by anger. This can become an enduring mindset making us perpetually peeved. Jesus points out that what we are being offered is a place in his Kingdom which we can only lose by walking away.
+Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
President, Paulist Evangelization Ministries