Church aisle facing the altar

Sunday Soundbite for September 24, 2017

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A

September 24, 2017

 

I once heard a quotation, and I’m sorry I don’t remember its source. It went: “To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and that there will be wonderful surprises.” Today’s Scripture readings seem to turn such a saying upside down, or at least make us re-think, “What’s fair.”

The prophet Isaiah quotes God: “My thoughts are not your thoughts…your ways are not my ways.” In the Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a boss who insisted on paying everyone a full day’s wage, including those who didn’t work a full day. The response from some of the workers: “It’s not fair!” In terms of Jesus’ story, God’s fairness is different from theirs.

Life often isn’t fair, and people frequently blame God for that. The death of loved ones; God’s seeming silence in response to prayers; the flaws in nature that give rise to disasters—all raise questions about God’s “fairness.” And yet there is also the amazing surprise ending to the parable, the generosity of the employer. Is Jesus trying to tell us something about God’s fairness?

Today’s responsorial psalm hints at it: It speaks of God’s graciousness, mercy and kindness. Perhaps we’re meant to delve deeper into what “fairness” means in human terms, so that we can understand it in God’s terms—and to be open to God’s “wonderful surprises.”