Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

God’s ways are clearly not our ways. Jesus tells a parable about paying people work one hour the same as those who work all day. He is not talking about economic justice or paying people fair and equitable wages. The parable is about how God thinks and acts. The problem for us is that God’s love knows no bounds.

We like to measure things out: if you buy me an expensive gift, I must get you one of equal, or better yet, higher value; if I live my life following all the commandments and pray everyday, go to confession every month, donate lavishly to charity...I should have a higher place in heaven; if someone does something horrible, that person should be in hell, for why should I have to share heaven with someone who is horrible?

I could go on and on, but you get the picture: God’s ways are not our ways. God doesn’t seem to want to measure out love and mercy, creating boundaries to how far God will go. Thanks be to God that he thinks differently than we do. What should our response be to a God who treats with love and acceptance those we deem to be bad and sinful?

Gratitude. Simple. Be grateful for what God has given to you. Remember, none of us merits salvation. It is a free gift from God, not based on, or determined by, our actions. We do what we need to do, we do what is right and good, not to gain “brownie points“ in heaven, but simply because it is what God wants. And we all fall short. We sin. We become misers of love, measuring out what we think is necessary to make ourselves look and feel good.

God will have nothing to do with this “bankrupt” way of thinking and living. “An eye for an eye” makes everybody blind, so said Gandhi. Measuring our love and justice is a nasty enterprise because we are all sinners in one way or another. I may follow all the commands by the letter, but if my heart is filled with condescension and self righteousness, perhaps I might find myself isolated in a hell I created by myself, and ultimately, for myself, because I “measure” our love and mercy.

God doesn’t act like this. Thank God.

Fr. Frank