Sunday, September 21, 2008

Many are cold, but few are frozen

...The Last Shall Be First...

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"...For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD." (Is 55:6-9)
...
"The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth." (Ps 145:17-18)
...
"...Are you envious because I am generous?
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Mat 20:1-16)

A story is told of a father that dropped off his son for Sunday Mass. He didn't attend but wanted his son to go. The father's lack of concern rubbed off on his son. After Mass he picked him up and asked him what the homily was all about about. The boy replied, "I'm not really sure. A parable about cold people or something." "What?" the puzzled father said. The boy explained, "Well, the priest kept saying many are cold, but few are frozen. :-)

Many are surprised by this parable. It seems unfair to give the same reward to everyone, without taking into account the corresponding labor and sacrifices. But Jesus was giving a parable about grace, which cannot be calculated like a day's wages. Indeed Jesus' thoughts are unlike our thoughts, because the rewards in the parable does not seem to make economic sense. Without doubt Jesus wanted to shock us and shatter the idea we obstinately cling to: we have merits that God must recognize. But we observe that nobody was cheated! Not a single worker was underpaid. While it may be argued (based on human, subjective, economic comparisons) that some were overpaid, nobody was cheated. The complaint of the early workers offered no evidence of wrongdoing. It was a complaint born in hearts of jealousy, not objective reality. A true sense of community rejoices that many are called together to work and be rewarded together. The warm fellowship in a community of workers in the Lord's vineyard delights in rewards given to all. No place for cold feelings.

Perhaps the boy got it right after all.

2 comments:

ancola said...

You are absolutely right in pointing out that nobody was cheated but we always tend to look at and compare our possessions/ status in life with our neighbors. This parable is a hard pill to swallow for us as the parable is basically telling us to do away with our “crab-mentally” and being happy for our own reward and more so for our neighbors’ blessings.

WillyJ said...

Yup, thanks for that additional insight. To that end, the favors of our God can never be exhausted.
God bless.