The parable of the workers in the vineyard is a reminder that we can’t argue about “fairness” over the distribution of God’s grace. In God’s kingdom the rewards will not be based on our usual pay scales and priorities, but will be generously given to all. Prophet Isaiah in the first reading reminds us, that God’s ways are not our ways.
All around us we see people suffering unjustly, innocent young people dying at a tender age, people who are paralyzed, those battling with terminal illnesses and others who are bedridden for lifelong. One side of the planet there is flood whereas in the opposite side there is drought. Natural calamities like earth quakes, hurricanes, tornados, frequent some places. There is no safety and security in this world. Always there is a threat, and in the midst of all, only the wicked survive and thrive. Many lose their faith in God and there are others who are angry with God. Many are confused, and at times we too feel shaken.
Job in the Old Testament was of the opinion that God was unjust in depriving Job of his family, his fortunes and even afflicting him bodily with virulent skin disease. Friends of Job systematically accuse Job and try to justify God. Job felt that none of his best friends could understand him and feel what he felt. Job tries various means, he curses himself, and he yells at God, bargains with God, and questions God’s goodness and justice. He sees God as the opponent and judge. Unable to find satisfying answers and to understand God’s ways Job abandons himself to despair. From self-justification Job is led to realize his narrow mentality and his mistaken limited way of thinking about God. Job does not get any answers, and he did not seek it at the end. He realized that he was part of God’s plan and God is with him in his suffering and realizes Him as the redeemer. Finally Job realizes that human beings can never comprehend fully the ways of God. His ways are mysterious. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways says the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).”
We all have a role to play in this life. At times we try to evade this responsibility and we wish that we were in control of the whole universe. There are times we feel pity and think like Job’s friends that it is their fate or we are luckier than them. The more we try to be individualistic and try to secure ourselves, the more fearful we become. We try to escape suffering, pain and even death by arguing, bargaining and complaining with God. It is all a learning process, the more we learn and grow in faith we come to realize God is not far away from us and He is with us. God walks with us, suffers with us, gives us strength in our weaknesses, supports us, and holds us to realize that this world with its sorrows and agonies, shortness of life and miseries will lead to a perfect life. If we change our perspective from seeking justice to recalling the generosity of God, we will begin to appreciate God’s ways.
“We learn to study by studying, to play on the lute by playing, to dance by dancing, to swim by swimming. So also we learn to love God and our neighbor by loving them, and those who attempt any other method are mistaken.” St. Francis de Sales.