As a busy single mom of five (wonderful) boys, you can bet I hear the phrase, “That’s not fair,” several times each week. Sometimes, no matter what I do or how I try to explain, one of my boys will feel slighted and march off in a huff.
“Sometimes,” I tell them, “fair isn’t always equal, and often times fair isn’t right.”
Equal is giving all 5 boys the same amount of dinner, but fair is giving my 17 year old more than my 5 year old.
Fair seems to be giving them all the same bedtime; right is allowing my older boys to stay up and watch football Sunday nights (It’s also simple self-preservation since they’d riot if I didn’t! 😉 )
One of my favorite sayings is “A Mother’s Love is multiplied not divided.”
Followed closely by, “I Love You 100%”
My boys have a hard time getting those concepts, but any Good Mother or Father will tell you it is possible to Love each child 100%.
How many children you have or
when they arrived in your arms does not matter.
What matters is that they are there.
A Good parent does not Love a younger child less just because that child arrived into the family later.
A child does not deserve less Love just because he arrived later than older siblings.
And yet, is that what we are suggesting when we question God’s reward of sinners who repent late in life?
Sunday’s Gospel was from the Book of Matthew, Chapter 20 and spoke of the Workers in the Vineyard.
In this parable, we see those workers who were hired last, dismissed first – yet given the same wage as those who worked all day.
When word of the wages paid those late workers got back to the first hires, don’t you just know they were busy speculating about their wages and how they would spend the extra money they now thought of as their due?
After all, it would seemed only fair that they get more since they had spent the full day in the fields while others had spent such a short time.
And when they went for their pay and were given what they were told they would receive, human disappointment filled their hearts and their tongues.
That’s not fair!
I’m inclined to agree with them. I work really hard for what I have and for what we’ve been given. It upsets me to see others accepting handouts, working less or not at all and having more than I do.
And yet, I am still trapped in worldly comparisons, and I try to box the Lord in with things I am comfortable comparing. I look at the length of time I’ve been “good” and think of how much better I am than another.
I forget that I should compare myself to the best, not to the least.
In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, we get upset because we also feel the workers deserve more than those who arrived late.
We never stop to look at the amount of work they do, how hard they toil, specifically which jobs they are each assigned. We just know that they work in the vineyard. Perhaps those who arrived late did more in their short time.
But it’s not just works that the wages God rewards us for. It’s our faith in Him, and this parable shouldn’t be looked at in isolation.
Look at this parable alongside the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Here, we see another late comer who is offered great reward compared to the son who has been by his father’s side all along.
So if we can repent late in life, what is the point of doing so early?
If we work all day to honor the Master only to be given the same reward as someone who joins the effort at sunset, why have we worked?
In addition to never knowing the hour the Master will return or the fact that to whom much has been given, much will be expected (Parable of the Talents), there is another reason as well.
Look at what the father tells the loyal son in the Prodigal Son. He says,
My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.
God is our one Perfect Father. He offers us everything. Eternal Life with Him in His Glory. A life of Loving and of Being Loved. A life of Peace.
What more could we want?
That Life we are promised does not become reduced because someone else shares in it late in the game. Like the son who works by his father’s side while his brother is off doing sinful things, we are invited to share in the Kingdom of Heaven.
All the Lord has is ours.
And like a parent who Loves her child, the Lord cannot Love us less than 100% no matter how many children He has nor when we join His flock.
Our reward for Loving and Honoring Him early is not greater than eternal life. It is not greater than all the Lord offers us in the after world.
The reward of joining the Lord’s family early does not come in increased riches after death, but in increased riches before death. It comes in the wealth that cannot be measured; it comes in knowing we are Loved 100% always.
Our reward for Serving Him early on is the peace of knowing we have that reservation, and that is priceless.