“Are you envious because I am generous?”

Today’s gospel drives home the point of yesterday’s reading by giving us Jesus’ parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Mt 20:1-16).  The story goes that a landowner goes out to hire men to tend his vineyards.  He finds more and more throughout the day and even in the final hour of the day.  When he pays them all the same amount (the usual daily wage) those that worked the longest complain.  He tells them that he is free to do with his money what he will and closes with the question above.  Jesus then reiterates the last line of yesterday’s reading: “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last” (v. 16).  As usual, the question Jesus asks of His listeners through the landowner is directed to listeners of all times.  Do we ever become envious because someone who, because of the life they led, “doesn’t deserve” special graces, help, or good fortune gets them?  Or what about the scoundrel who has lived a horribly immoral and even criminal life who has a late conversion?  Why should he get a “free pass” to heaven?  “Worse yet,” what about the deathbed confession of faith of the worst of the worst?  Hey, we have tried to live an upright life and follow the Lord and all we seem to find are hardships.  Yet these others get off “scot-free.”  Jesus tells us today the wrongness of this attitude.  First, remember: God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).  Second, none of us “deserve” heaven.  We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree.  Yet, grace is freely given by our generous God.  Yet, eternal life is not come by cheaply.  Christ died so that it would be available to us.  And we are called to cooperate in it.  If, by God’s grace, we know Him early in life and maintain our relationship, we should consider ourselves blessed.  If others go astray — for whatever reason — they are always welcome back in this life.  Mother Teresa said: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  Judgment will come at the moment of death and will be meted out by Jesus.  In the meantime, we must take the attitude of Christ who died for all out of love for all.  We should want to meet everyone in heaven and should pray and work toward this goal.

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