Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Judges 9:6-15
Gospel Matthew 20:1-16

"‘…the last will be first, and the first will be last.’"

Clarity emerges from Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel. He teaches us who we are to live our lives for, and how we may serve them.

Jesus’ parable, of course, is not about economics, but about merciful love. At the end of the parable, when the landowner rhetorically asks, “am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?”, we understand that Jesus is, so to speak, putting words in the mouth of God the Father. When faced with us human sinners, God the Father asks, “am I not free to do as I wish with my own merciful love?”

You and I gripe and complain as we walk through life. We’re just like the laborers in this parable. We cannot understand why others should receive blessings in their lives when they don’t deserve them. We notice, in fact, not only that “the rain falls on the just and the unjust”, and that “the Lord makes His sun to shine on the evil and the good.” God actually shows mercy to those who do not deserve it. In our pride, this gets to us, because it seems unjust.

When we find ourselves torn between what seems just, and what God chooses to offer, we need to reflect again on the answer that the Father gave us when He sent His eternal Son to become flesh and blood, in order to offer that flesh and blood on Calvary, and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. You might spend some time in prayer during this next week simply gazing at a crucifix, reflecting on this mystery of how Jesus on the Cross bound together the love of God and the love of neighbor. God asks us to prefer His form of mercy to our own sense of justice.