Abundance, Not Scarcity
When reading today’s Gospel, I was sincerely challenged on a response to the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. All too often my mentality resonates with those who started their work first thing in the morning and stayed until the very end of the day. They worked so hard! They checked off everything from the to-do list! I can imagine the workers who started their labor at 7am complaining about their wage being the same as those who began at 5pm. “This is not fair! We did far more work than they did. We should be paid fairly. We should be acknowledged in a special way for all the work we did, which we were expected to do.” I have been the person to demand fairness. I have been the person to desire the praise and acknowledgment for doing what is expected of me. However, God is not a God of fairness, but a God of generosity and justice. In fact, upon further reflection, I no longer see this story as one about the followers of God but about the qualities of God that make following attractive.
The vineyard owner asks his disgruntled workers, “Are you envious because I am generous?” What they fail to see is that the payment the owner gives is not about them. The owner gives what the owner sees is necessary or beneficial or purposeful. The owner is completely entitled to share his gifts and wealth in whatever way he sees fit. If we are to interpret this story using the vineyard owner as an example of God’s generosity, justice, and compassion, we know that God does the same. What God grants each of us is specific to the needs and desires in our own hearts. What God grants us has little to do with what God grants others. Who am I to question God’s generosity? Someone else’s good fortune does not change our own good fortune. Seeing another benefit from generosity does not take away from the compassion and generosity we too might receive. There is room for everyone in the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is not our choice who ends up there.
We exist in a world that tells us resources are limited. To a certain extent, this is true; however, God’s reality is one of abundance. There is an outpouring of love that stems from God and flows into each of our hearts. When we receive gifts from our Heavenly Provider, we are called in turn to share those gifts rather than hoard them or judge what another has been given. What a blessing to know that God’s love is infinite beyond our comprehension! Wrapping our minds around this certainly comes with its own difficulties, but the more we practice a response of gratitude and generosity ourselves, the more accustomed we will become to loving others when they receive what they need, as opposed to feeling envious of them.