The Readings today show us the mercy of God. The Gospel shows how the landowner went out several times that day to hire groups of workers. The first group was hired early in the day with an agreed wage. The second was hired at nine in the morning. The third was hired at noon, then at three in the afternoon and finally at five in the afternoon. For this last group, he asks: Why are you standing here idle all day? They answered, Because no one has hired us. These are the rejects whom no one wanted and the landowner gave them a chance and they obeyed. When it was time to pay them, the landowner had the manager pay those who were hired last. They were given a day’s wage. The first group expected they would be paid more. Instead, they were disappointed because they were paid the same wage as those who worked for an hour. Those in the first group complained and the landowner replied, Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?
We see both justice and mercy at work. The landowner did justice to the first group. And had mercy on the other groups. While the landowner could have given the first group more, he choose not, because it was his money and he can do what he wills. The first group agreed on a wage and they are right to expect the agreed wage to be paid. The other groups did not agree on the wage. Instead, they trusted the landowner when he said I will pay you whatever is right.
Justice then is based on the letter of the law, while mercy is based on trust. This parable shows, God, in the person of the landowner is merciful and just. His mercy is based on his generosity. There is no limit to God’s mercy. And God dispenses these according to his pleasure. And despite the complaints of the first group, God still would not compromise. He is still God and he does what he wills. God shows his generous mercy to even those whom people find to be worthless. Why? Because everyone is valuable to God. The last group of workers would not have gotten the money if they did not do what the landowner told them. Similarly for us, we will not know how God sees us until we do what he tells us. If we reject God’s invitation to do what he tells us, then we will never know God.
Knowing God requires God revealing himself to us. We can use our reason to know something about God, but to know God fully, he needs to reveal himself to us and we need to open ourselves to want to know him. The purpose of knowing God and obeying him is so we can always give glory to him as St Paul said in the Second Reading.
We do not obey God our of fear. Demons do that. But we obey God because we know this is what he wants and because we love him and our only desire is to make visible our love for him. Not because he does not know, but because it is only in acting out that love, that makes us grow in knowledge of him. What is God telling us today?
The First Reading tells us: Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. Seek the Lord. When we are confused in life, when nothing seems to work despite our best efforts, when we feel guilty of our past sins, or when we are hounded by our sins in the past, we seek the Lord and call him. What does this mean? Let the wicked person forsake their way; and the unrighteous person their thoughts. We turn away from our sin. We reject our ideas of God. We return to the Lord. And the First Reading tells us when we do, we will find mercy because God abundantly pardons.
Lord, I come to you with my sin, with my sufferings, with the chaos in my life. Come and enter my life. I surrender all I am, and I and searching for you. Let me find you Lord as I reject my sin and desire only you. Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.