The Generosity of God
by: Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D., Catholic Author and Speaker
“But that’s not fair!” Most parents have heard this phrase umpteen times. The notion of fairness also known as justice, is built into us. It makes us aware that each of us has certain rights that need to be respected.
But it also means that we each have duties. If others have the right to be paid for their work, those who benefit from that work have the duty to pay them. If others have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the duty not to let our pursuit of happiness infringe on their rights.
But we have to widen our perspective a bit. God, the creator of all, is responsible for all the blessings we enjoy. Life in this world was given to each of us as an undeserved, free gift. We have unequal physical talents, features, and abilities, plus diverse spiritual and intellectual gifts as well. They vary a lot from person to person, but what they all have in common is that they come as free gifts from God who didn’t have to create any of us.
This is the necessary background to fully understand a parable that at first shocks our sensibilities. Matthew (20:1-16) records a story of an employer who hires workmen to harvest grapes. He hires members of the crew at various times of the day, so that at the end of the day, some have only worked a few hours while others have worked all day long. There’s grumbling when everyone is paid the same standard day’s wage, regardless of how long they worked. To add insult to injury, those who started last got paid first. “No fair!”
Wait a minute. The master paid those who worked all day exactly what he told them they’d get. He just decided to be generous and pay everybody, even the latecomers, a full day’s wage. Justice does not preclude generosity.
The Pharisees thought that they had always done the will of God and deserved more than the rest, especially the rabble Jesus appeared to favor–including tax collectors and sinners. It roiled them to think that these Johnny-come-lately’s would sit along them in the Kingdom of God.
Truth be told, neither they, nor any of us, are really like the folks who consistently did the will of the Master, working uninterruptedly at the assigned task. Our assigned job is to love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, ALL our soul, and ALL of our strength (Deut 6:4-5) every day of our life. This is only fair since we owe God absolutely everything. But we’ve all unfairly walked off the job at various moments–thumbing our noses at him through our disobedience, pride, and selfishness. Some have gone AWOL longer than others, and some’s sins are more spectacular than others. But the bottom line is that, in terms of strict justice, God does not owe any of us anything except, perhaps, punishment.
But in his extraordinary generosity, the Lord has offered us a deal–if we will accept His beloved Son in faith as Savior and Lord, and through the power of the Spirit seek to do His will, and if we will repent each time we fail, He will give us what we do not deserve–friendship with Him here that opens out to eternal glory hereafter. The first takers for this offer have typically been those most aware of their need for mercy. And this is why the last have usually been first when it comes to the Kingdom of God.
Seems fair to me.
This was originally published in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection upon the readings for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, liturgical cycle A (Is 55 6-9), Ps 145, Phil 1:20-24, 27; Mt 20:1-16). It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.
Follow Us -
Join us on Facebook
Join us on Twitter
Click here to download, print and share the Generosity of God!
To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!
Feast of Faith -
The Transforming Power of the Eucharist
"The Feast of Faith," is an enlightening, four-part adult faith formation series (on 2 CDs, or 2 DVDs) guaranteed to unlock the life-changing power of the Eucharist in your life. Be sure to order the Feast of Faith Workbook, you may view it online, to get the most out of this amazing Eucharist Series!
Feast of Faith DVD - $49.95
Feast of Faith – CD - $19.95
Feast of Faith Workbook - $6.95
Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics by Daniel Ali
With the terrorist attacks of September 11, the war with Iraq, and the ongoing crisis plaguing the Holy Land, Islam is in the news now more than ever. Yet most Catholics know little about this formidable faith. Now there’s a book on Islam written specifically for Catholics.
I Believe - The Heart of the Catholic Faith - DVD Set
In this dynamic, four-part faith formation series, on the Creed, Dr. D'Ambrosio explains how this expression of the basic beliefs of Roman Catholicism is relevant to our personal relationship with God.
How Mary and the Rosary Can Change Your Life -CD Set
Two talk set by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio that explains the Virgin Mary as the model of faith, the true meaning of the Rosary and how both can change your life! Wonderful for anyone who has questions about the Catholic belief with regards to Mary and the Rosary!
History of the Church Bundle
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the Church’s History, like who are The Early Church Fathers and why do they matter in our modern Church? Find out with Early Church Fathers: Who They are and Why They Matter and Early Church Fathers VOL I & II. These CDs will open up a whole new depth to your understanding of the Church and presented by Dr. Italy – you know that they will come to life! But, don’t stop with the Early Church Fathers – find out what REALLY happened in the divide of the Church! Christianity Divided, a 2 CD set will take you through the history of the Orthodox and Protestant divisions in the Church.