Friday 25 July 2014

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Is life fair? Throughout the day, we may have heard someone somewhere exclaiming: "It's not fair!" We may have heard children complaining: “I’m doing more work!” or “My chores are more difficult; that’s not fair.” Students at school may resent the extra attention given to a classmate... “that's the teacher’s favourite, the teacher's pet; that’s not fair!” A sibling thinks his or her portion of food appears to be smaller than his or her other sibling's... “That’s not fair!” We may have heard of employees who think their boss doesn’t appreciate their efforts or recognise their achievements, wondering: “that’s not fair!” Someone at work receives a raise in salary which causes another person to think: “I have seniority. I’ve been here longer; that’s not fair!” So, is life fair?

Some of us think that good work, seniority, experience, or talent should be rewarded. Some think that all should be treated equally: no discrimination, no favourites, no this, no that. But are we expecting equality and fairness in all situations, at all cost? Today's gospel puts us in a spot. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us of a landowner who hired workers at different times of the day to work in his vineyard. At the end of the day, regardless of how long one had worked, the landowner paid all equally, one denarius per person, as what had been agreed upon. Some of us may think: that land owner is not fair. Why should those who work longer hours be paid the same as those who worked fewer hours? Humanly speaking, that appears to be not fair and the landowner appears to have exploited the workers, especially those who worked longer hours. But consider this: the landowner had made an agreement of one denarius a day, no more, no less (not according to the number of hours worked, as some may have expected). He chose to be generous to all, regardless of the number of hours worked. So was the landowner really being fair? Certainly! He paid in full what had been agreed upon, and he chose to be generous. If that is the case, why do some complain about fairness and equality?

In the same way, some of us may feel that God is like the landowner. Some of us feel that God is not fair at times. But are we expecting God to be fair according to our terms? We assume that the way God deals with us ought to be the same as how we deal with each other. However, as the first reading reminds us; God’s ways are not like our ways; nor are God’s thoughts like ours. This realisation should lead us to rejoice in the fact that God transcends all human standards, not in fairness according to the way we perceive, but in love, mercy and compassion.

In today's responsorial psalm, we are reminded: "The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures. The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds. He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts." Therefore, we should be thankful, grateful and celebrate, for God is fair to us according to His terms, not according to our terms.

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