Sunday, September 20, 2020
I have struggled to get to where I am. I have fought my way from the bottom to the top. No one gave me anything. I am where I am because I worked for it.
We live in a society where our successes are often defined by money. Where we live, what we drive, what we wear, places we go...all of these things say a lot about who we are to each other. Those with bigger and better have worked hard and these beautiful things--homes, cars, jewelry, vacations--are the pay off. When we go to school, work hard (harder and hardest), we come out on top. What we have is what we’ve earned.
Today’s readings are a painful reality check. For many of us, the challenge begins with Isaiah. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” God doesn’t think along the lines we do. His ways and thoughts are way above ours. Our definition of success can be limited, relegated to our earthly temporary home. Our definition of love likely doesn’t compare with God’s; nor do our thoughts on mercy or forgiveness. St. Paul goes on to tell us that he yearns to go to Christ--to “depart this life.” In the culture in which we live, the idea of yearning to depart this earth and all of the pleasantries it holds is uncomfortable to many. Matthew delivers the fatal blow to our idea of “earnings.” How can someone who has worked so little earn exactly the same as the person who has worked so much? The landowner’s love for those working for him does not come with boundaries like a time clock. He didn’t start handing out the reward to the star employee first, but began with the last.
God’s love and mercy and forgiveness are for all of us and the boundaries are endless. We don’t have to earn it like we do the temporary goods of this earth. Here are some thoughts to consider, however. What you’ve “earned” in this life--no matter the size--is not without God’s help. As humans, we struggle and likely, many times, God has accompanied you through that struggle. How do you share what you have? How do you look at those with less than you? Do you question their work ethic, their education, their motivation? How do you respond to those who may disagree with your ideas? Do you take time to listen? Our readings, while a challenge, are an invitation. They are an opportunity to grow in our relationship with God--thinking bigger, broader, deeper--and to share those thoughts and ways that are so far above us with those around us.