Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 20, 2020
I once heard a quotation, and I’m sorry I don’t remember its source. But 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.”