I really like my car! A year ago I bought my pearl white Mazda 6 with two tone leather interior and Bose sound system. It's a fun car to drive and I think it looks pretty cool. And yet I'll be driving, and a "nicer" car will catch my eye. I then go through this weird mental exercise that demonstrates an unpleasant truth about myself. Check out this week's Gospel to find out what it is.
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.' When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.' He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?' Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:1-16
The envy demonstrated by the laborers who had worked all day is to some degree understandable. The laborer earns his wage and is typically paid accordingly. But this isn't about the world. Jesus' parable demonstrates two profound truths. 1. God's generosity is other-worldly. 2. We as believers must trust His generosity and grace - for all.
Each time I read this parable I have to admit there is a part of me that says, this isn't fair. And the reality is, in a worldly sense, it isn't. If I am honest with myself I believe that envy might be the single most frequent sin I am tempted to commit. Is it me or is this a human condition that is especially prevalent in our consumerist culture? I believe the answer is yes to both.
Perhaps we need to begin with what we have and be grateful to God who provides all that is good. With that starting point it is much more likely that we aren't tempted to begrudge God's generous blessings for others. Once we do our ride is much more joyous.