Learning from God to be magnanimous
Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Year A (Matt 20:1-16)
National Seafarers’ Day, September 24, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE “workers of the first hour” had been praiseworthy, available, hardworking, laboring the whole day in the scorching heat. Really, they had done their best to earn their wages. But their complaining at paytime tarnishes their image, for it reveals their weakness: they are envious. In spite of all our efforts to sympathize with their concern for a fair retribution, the truth of the matter is that they do not know how to appreciate the magnanimity of their Master. They feel envious when they see that others are offered a better deal. Their jealousy clouds their vision.
They would be right if everything in life were to be reduced to proportional retribution – so much compensation for so much done or produced. But if this were the only rule in life, no one would have time and attention (and money!) for those who do not “produce”—the weak, the sick, the disabled, the babies, the aged . . . .
Even the strongest among us would have had a very short life. For all of us, in fact, there was a time when we were weak, when we did not “produce” anything at all, and were totally dependent on the generous love of our parents and other people.
We live on borrowed life! We all are the fruit of God’s generosity, not of God’s retribution. And He keeps being generous with us, even when we positively deserve His just punishment.
Why react negatively, then, at His “exceptional generosity” toward some of our brothers and sisters when we know that everyone will have to account in proportion to what one has received? Why be saddened by God’s generosity toward others, and forget that we too, and more than once, have been the beneficiaries of His wonderful liberality?
Envy is a terrible woodworm. It devours us from within. If left unchecked, it can destroy so much good in us and around us.
Envy over the good fortune or achievements of our neighbor is like a plague that makes everybody’s life miserable. Instead, we should learn from God, who is ever so generous, ever so good. We should learn to rejoice at His liberality toward all His creatures. We should learn to imitate Him, in our little way, by using His very gifts to do good to others. The person who really loves is never jealous. He/she who really love “God’s way” always rejoices in the good fortune and success of others.