September 20, 2020
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a; Matthew 20:1-16a
“That’s not fair!” is a statement that probably a lot of us have made at one time or other in life; whether it was as a child not getting what we wanted, or as an adult seeing an injustice done to someone. Something in us wants things to be clearly fair. For some, it is the desire to see that good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. Now you may be waiting for me to say that the world does not work this way. But, you know, in the end, this is exactly what does happen: good things DO happen to good people…and bad things DO happen to bad people. But that is not the total story. Good people also have bad experiences…and bad people have good experiences. So, what happened to fairness? Where is God in all this? Today’s Gospel might seem at first to be terribly unfair: people who worked hard all day are given the exact same pay as those who worked only an hour. Surely this can’t be fair. But, as is always the case in a parable, Jesus is making a point about the kingdom: in this case He is showing us something of the reality of God’s love, not mere human justice. The purpose of Jesus’ story is that God’s mercy is for everyone, whether they worked at being faithful all their lives, or only turned toward Him at the last minute. Now, if this is true, we might well ask the question: “Then why should we work hard all our lives to be good, kind and holy, if God will take us even if we were rotten, and only turned to Him at the last moment of our lives?” The answer is important: We don’t work at being good, kind and holy in order to somehow earn our way into heaven, we do it because we become closer to Jesus and one another through this; our lives become better here and now; we can see the goodness in the world instead of fixating on the negative; and we can become people of peace, purpose and joy! And that is much better than just looking for fairness in life, because it is an experience of God’s love, which goes far beyond “fair” and gives our lives greater meaning than we could ever imagine.