Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the classic “Charlie Brown Christmas Special,” Sally is writing a letter to Santa Claus and in the process, generates an enormous list of toys she wants. Then at the conclusion of her North Pole-bound message she writes, “But if that is too much to carry, just send cash.” When Charlie Brown sees this and despairs over his own sister’s greed, Sally indignantly responds, “All I want is my fair share. All I want is what I have coming to me.” How many times, in the course of a given day, have you heard someone protest, “That’s not fair!”? Today’s readings are all about the sense of justice and the extravagant grace of a merciful God. “That’s not fair!” Children on a playground shout when they detect a foul play: “That’s not fair!” Siblings doing household chores may complain, “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… “She’s the teacher’s favorite; that’s not fair!” A brother thinks his piece of pie is smaller than his sister’s — “That’s not fair!” Someone at work receives a raise in salary when another person thinks he/she is more deserving: “I have seniority. I’ve been here longer; that’s not fair!” The coach of the Little League baseball team always puts her child in as starting pitcher; other players are annoyed… “That’s not fair!” In each of these several examples, human sensitivities regarding fairness and patience have been offended, precisely because of the fact that they are human. Most of us think that good work, seniority and experience should be rewarded, that all should be subject to the same rules, like “First come, first served,” that everyone should be treated impartially and that there should be no exceptions and no favorites! Therefore, when confronted with a situation such as that put before us in today’s Gospel parable of identical wages for different numbers of hours of work, our sense of fairness in provoked. This story of the landlord’s love and generosity represents God’s love and generosity to all of us. It illustrates the difference between God’s perspective and ours. God’s provisions for our spiritual lives will never run out, and when we share our blessings with others, we tap into the inexhaustible Divine supply. This story shows us how God looks at us, sees our needs and meets those needs generously and mercifully. That is what we heard in the first reading God’s ways are different than ours. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” When someone else is more successful than we are, let us assume he needs it. When someone who does wrong fails to get caught, let us remember the many times we have done wrong and gotten off free. We must not wish pain on people for the sake of fairness. We become envious of others because of our lack of generosity of heart. Envy should have no place in our lives. We cannot control the way God blesses others, only rejoice that He does so, just as He blesses us.
God personally calls each of us to our own ministry and shows us His care by giving us His grace and eternal salvation. To God, we are more than just numbers on a payroll. Our call to God’s vineyard is a free gift from God for which we can never be sufficiently thankful. All our talents and blessings are freely given by God. Hence, we should express our gratitude to God by avoiding sins, by rendering loving service to others, by sharing our blessings with the needy, and by constant prayer, listening and talking to God at all times.
We can be generous in the way we give a person encouragement and a kind word when they are feeling down even though that person might not be one of our best buddies. We can be generous in the way we give of our time to help someone going through a rough patch. When someone says something that offends us, we can be generous in our reaction and emphasize, understand and, rather than give back the hostility or injury just as it was given to us. When we have fallen out with someone or believe we have been unfairly treated, we can be generous in our willingness to reach out, make amends and restore friendships. When someone really annoys us and gets under our skin, we can be generous with our patience and kindness and deal with that person in a way that reflects the generous nature of God. When we see people who lack the bare necessities needed for a happy and healthy life we need to be generous with what we have been given by our generous God.
God bless you,