Sunday, September 18, 2011

God's Abundant Love

[Or] am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous? (Matthew 20:15)
Some people have a hard time with this parable. On the surface, it seems so unfair that the landowner pays the workers who show up at the last minute the same as the ones who have been there all day.
But God does not think the way that we think.
“As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
This parable is not about fairness. This parable is about God's abundant love and and generosity.
And let’s not miss the good news in this story - we are ALL recipients of this love and generosity. All of us.
Where we make our mistake is thinking that we deserve heaven. We think we earn our way into heaven by being good.
Salvation is not earned. Salvation is not deserved. Salvation is a gift.
Sometimes I have heard people ask, what good is it for us to be faithful our whole lives if we can just make a deathbed confession and be saved?
I think of the parable of the Prodigal Son. The older brother asks his father the same kind of question. And I remember this beautiful statement made by the father -
Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
Those who come to the vineyard earlier have had a life filled with God’s love and graces.
St. Catherine of Siena said that "all the way to heaven is heaven."
I myself am a prodigal daughter returned. I only wish I had come home to the Father earlier.
Dear Lord, help me to pray for those who have not yet come to work at your vineyard. Help me to welcome all who come, early or late. Thank you, Lord, for all the graces you have given me, undeserved as they are. Amen.


Victor S E Moubarak said...

This is very profound Colleen.

Many people, including myself, have had difficulties with those two parables.

I know of a particular case where, through telling lies, a person has literally destroyed the lives of many other people. I cannot understand how, should that person confess and regret on their death bed, all will be forgiven despite a life of total hell for all the others affected by the lies.

God bless.

Kathleen Basi said...

Oh, I like that: a life filled with God's graces. That's a great way to frame the answer to this question.

I used this Scripture in a reflection on generosity for Liguorian's December issue. It's nice to have it brought to mind again...looking forward to hearing the homily today.

Colleen said...

Victor, I know what you mean. I often think the same way about my father, who leaves so much pain and destruction in his wake. But I know he is forgiven.
I just think that when we are all in heaven, we will be so happy. And nothing else will matter.
God bless you.

Colleen said...

Kathleen, I will have to find that article to read.
Glad you like my answer to that question. I just know that I would not like being one of those waiting til the last minute. I would miss all of this life I have now! And my close relationship with Jesus!
God bless.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Working in the vineyard is hard work but God really is being fair. He made a contract with each worker and fulfilled that contract. Instead of complaining, we ought to think of the after work party where we go together to lift a glass and enjoy one another's company. Heaven is that eternal party and all who follow Christ will share in the joy. The more the merrier when we get to that place where there will be no more tears and anguish. My big concern is that if I'm not careful I won't get there at all.

Seriously, it doesn't pay to measure God by human standards. Ours are just too low. When I think of it this way, it's easier to let go of that notion of unfairness.

Jean Wise said...

Like the line that God doesn't think the way we think. Thank heaven for that! But a great reminder that what we think the story is about may totally miss the real lesson. good post, Colleen

noreen said...

if only we'd realize in our day to day lives that our life is filled with God's graces. We could handle the stresses in life with more grace!

Colleen said...

Barb, I so agree!

Jean, thank you.

Noreen, I agree! We wander around missing those graces that are raining down on us!