One of my favorite Scripture stories is the Parable of The Vineyard Workers ( Matthew 20:1-16) wherein a landowner pays the exact same pay to workers who work different amounts of the day, much to the subsequent anger of the original workers who worked an entire day for, as it turns out, the same pay as those who had only worked a few hours. We can all relate to those workers who worked the full day. Not fair! Are you kidding me? This is an outrage! Imagine how you would feel if a co-worker who worked three hours was given the same pay as you were given for eight hours of work.
By human and earthly standards, this landowner is either crazy, sinister, drunk, viciously malicious or, at the very least, stupid. After all, why would any boss want to create a riot by being so blatantly unfair? Truth be told, however, a simple and careful reading of the parable will demonstrate that the landowner was not, in fact, deceiving or playing with anyone. He gave every single worker what he promised to give him. The landowner paid the full day workers exactly what he said he would pay them, and he paid the other workers what he felt was right.
Our human perception of unfairness in this story comes, not from the interaction between the landowner and the workers but, actually, from the comparison between the pay given the workers in relation to what they worked. Steeped in our flimsy human arrogance and presumption, we assume that the pay here is proportional to the work because that is our earthly measure. We arrogantly presume that this landowner must adhere to our perceptions of fairness and justice because, after all, aren’t those very same perceptions simply brimming with our wisdom and common sense?
Our arrogance allows, even demands, that we measure the landowner’s actions by our measures of justice, with no regard to the fact that, at the end of the day, as the landowner reminds all of the workers, it is his money to do as we wishes.
Enter Christ’s Divine Mercy as brought to us directly through St. Faustina and indirectly through the writings of other saints. Try as we might, we simply cannot put our brain around the fact that, like that landowner, Almighty God is so generous as to offer us salvation, via an incredibly generous supply of mercy, regardless of how little we have paid our share of service and loyalty to His promises, if only we will do our best once afforded the chance and with what opportunities are presented to us.
We would be fools to presume that we come anywhere near deserving the generous payment of eternal salvation offered us by our Eternal Landowner, yet we are just as likely, and foolish, to both disbelieve the reliability of that Divine Generosity as well as dare to compare ourselves to others in its attainment.
When you come right down to it, most, if not all, of sin is about worrying more about ourselves and our relation to others than keeping our souls and being focused on God and the beautiful eternity He lovingly, generously, and mercifully offers us.
The next time you feel that God has been unfair, unjust, or ignored you, look to the great saints who lived to love and serve others, lived the idea that the last shall be first, and were too humbly content, and grateful, to be working in God’s vineyard to be worrying about who was getting how much mercy and reward for doing what. Love and serve God by loving and serving others, put others ahead of yourself, and faithfully believe that God will do right by you, and you will be cashing the greatest paycheck of all when all is said and done.
Copyright, 2013, Gabriel Garnica. All rights reserved.