Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Throughout the Sacred Scriptures – and especially in the four Gospels – we learn how God can be known by His many attributes and we can also learn how God can be called many things. So, for example, we hear how God is Holy; God is one; God is love; and so on! And what’s more - these attributes are confirmed by our profession of the Creed – the profession of our faith - at every single Sunday Mass.
But in today’s rather beautiful Gospel parable - we learn of an attribute that we don’t profess at Mass. That’s because in today’s Gospel we learn how God can - of all things - be called ‘Unfair’!
Now before you think I’ve completely lost the plot since returning from Pilgrimage – perhaps suffering from jet lag or too much fresh air from the beautiful mountains of Zakopane – let me explain what I mean by that.
In today’s Parable – Jesus is demonstrating how God can be seen as unfair by human standards – by the standards of the world. And that’s because of we as a society – as a species – demand what we think is justice. We demand what we think is fair play! But today’s Gospel Parable – at least at first glance - is anything but!
Instead, we have a portrayal of some people working harder and longer than others and still getting the exact same reward as the latecomers! Now I don’t know about you but the sense of annoyance – the sense of frustration – that sense of injustice felt by the labourers is something I think we could all relate to!
I know that I certainly can relate to this sense of annoyance and injustice growing up with six brothers and one sister and sometimes feeling that my siblings were getting the exact same reward for doing less work than me! Obviously now as a holy priest, I no longer have those feelings of annoyance or injustice towards my brothers or sister anymore!
But today’s Parable demonstrates that God, on the other hand, is unfair. And He’s unfair because He doesn’t treat us with the human understanding of justice – with our own fallible understanding of fair play which is prone to change to our own subjectivity. Instead, God treats us all with the higher standard of Divine Mercy. A standard that recognises our own strengths and our own weaknesses and - rather than condemns us - does everything possible to ensure we can all enjoy the same great reward of eternal life with God no matter when or how we enter into a relationship with Him.
That’s because as well as being unfair – God is also relentlessly in love with each and every one of us and is constantly pursuing us - bringing us home to His eternal Kingdom. He is constantly giving us everything we need – every single grace necessary- to be able to grow deeper in our relationship with Him and help bring others back to Him too! He wants us all – regardless of who or what we are – or where we have come from - to enjoy the same reward of an eternity with Him and all those who have gone before us.
So what does this all mean for us!? Well, it reminds us that as followers of Christ we should be filled with deep hope and faith that God is, in fact, unfair and is relentlessly in love with us. That’s because it’s this unfairness and this relentless love that led Jesus to the cross to die for us – to reconcile us back to His Father and allow us to enjoy the reward that God has promised to us. It’s this unfairness and this relentless love that ensures that the Church on Earth – our Church - can be a symbol of God’s constant reaching out to all people – a symbol of God’s love and mercy for us – a symbol of hope to all of us – even those who live in darkness or those who do not yet know of their need for the Lord and His healing.
So let us today pray that we may bring the unfairness of God to all whom we encounter. Let us remind the world that it is never too late to turn back to the Lord. Let us remind the world that it is never too late to enjoy a relationship with God and enjoy the rewards that have been promised to us since the beginning of time – the reward of eternity with Love Himself!