Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time September 20, 2020
It is not always easy to understand the ways of God. In today’s Gospel we hear the parable of laborers failing to understand why those who worked just one hour receive the same wages as those who worked an entire day. It reminds me of a current phrase, which some people use to describe their inability to understand other people or the meaning of some event, and it goes like this, “Go figure!” The
parable is a reminder to us of our futile attempts to understand why some people seemingly have been dealt a better hand than others as they go through life. Why then does God apparently give more blessings to some than to others? We can approach this question from our own light but I believe the answer lies elsewhere.
In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, God tells us the same thing: “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” It is not always easy to understand God’s ways. In any case it would be silly to be jealous of others because we only see the outside and we never know what cross others may have to carry.
The landowner, in Matthew’s Gospel, understood human nature very well when he asked, “Are you envious because I am generous?” Those who worked hard in the heat all day were jealous of those who worked for only one hour, who barely broke a sweat, and received the same pay. But instead of being envious and jealous of those who have been dealt a better hand than us, there is a better attitude which is to be grateful for the hand we have been dealt. Therefore, be thankful for our “blessings” in this life!
Let’s “peel back the onion” for a moment. If you are jealous of someone, think how you would feel if you lived in a country where Christianity has been banned. How would you feel if you lived where citizens lived in poverty, had disease, lacked
education, and mistreated their women and children? Think about the family in your community who lost their house and all of its possessions in a fire. Think about the families who live in our parish who rely on the food you donate in order to eat every day. We are indeed blessed to live in a country that offers us so many freedoms, as well as, the ability to help those who are in need.
If you know of anyone who feels that life has been unfair, I would suggest that they turn to Holy Scripture. It has much to teach us about healing our attitudes on the subject. In many Books of the Bible, we are taught that we are to give thanks to God at all times and in all circumstances. Two examples are: Ephesians 5:20, “Always and everywhere give thanks to God who is our Father,” and Thessalonians 5:16-18, which states, “Be happy at all times; pray constantly and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Jesus Christ.”
The spirt of today’s readings confronts all of us with the “upsidedownness” of God (I actually made-up that word). We are people who love the results of simple logic: if this is true, then that will be true. When we perceive life that way then we feel—well, quite comfortable, and we think all is right with the world.
We are invited in today’s reading to allow God to be different from our methods of figuring. Wait! Really?! Did this guy who worked only one hour receive a full day’s pay? Where do I sign-up? But it makes no sense! Or does it?
Trickery is not God’s way. Fooling with our minds is manipulation not a relationship. We simply pray to receive God and to love God with all our hearts, our minds, and all our souls. All on God’s terms—So, “Go figure!”
Question of the Day: Will you pray for all who act in a jealous manner that they will focus on what they have to be thankful for, instead of focusing on the blessings in the lives of others?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, our desire is to become holy like You. Set us free from thoughts that cause us to become jealous towards others. Please give us the grace to control jealous emotions when they arise. Teach us to be happy for all who succeed regardless of the circumstances of that success. Purify our minds from ungodly thoughts and help us to walk in the way that is pleasing to You. Amen.