At the root of the dissatisfaction in this Sunday’s gospel is envy. Even though they are not treated unfairly, the first workers of the day complain because they are envious of the generosity of the Lord. And if the love of God were finite or limited, they would have a point. But, God’s love is infinite, and we cannot be more fulfilled if we are saved. God’s love is without limit, and so everyone can be loved in fullness by God.
It does not take long as a teacher to discover when you are being set up. While I do not have children of my own, I suspect it is the same for parents and their children too. For teachers it shows itself when a student asks you what you think of their essay. You know instinctively they did not get the grade they expected. For parents I am guessing it is embodied in lines like, “Well Mom said” or “Dad said”.
In today’s gospel Jesus tells us that when we ask, we receive; when we knock the door is opened; when we seek, we find. But what happens when the roles are reversed? What happens when God seeks us, asks us to follow his will, knocks to be allowed into our hearts? Are we then quite as generous? Is it the case that we can be generous to God? It is not because this benefits God, but because it benefits us. Make your heart more open to God.
I will not leave you orphans. God loves us, and he sends people in our lives to love us. What a gift and grace. In Day Three of this novena, help us to grow in love of God and neighbor.
We can find ourselves blaming God for many things. We can watch a loved one suffer with cancer, and despite our prayers, die. We can have a difficult situation, and despite our prayers have it not turn out so well. We can have a broken relationship, and despite our prayers, find it remains broken. Sometimes we blame God for these things, but in fact, God calls us to something better than we can see here. The gospel today challenges us to remember that God is the abundant giver of new life.
compared with the glory to be revealed for us. Can you believe this? With all of the trouble and suffering in the world, can you believe that anyone can say this? How is it even possible? How can it be that with the suffering and brokenness in others, let alone myself, that I can see that the glory to be revealed is simply that great? The gospel holds the answer. Even the slightest bit of God’s glory is beyond what we can know. And Jesus tells us as much when he gives an example of the Kingdom of God. A mustard seed, so tiny, becomes a large bush. The yeast is felt throughout the whole dough. And when it comes to God’s love for us, and the power of his presence, there simply is nothing stronger.
The prayer of the Pharisee in the parable told by Jesus is interesting. First, he prays to himself. Think about that phrase for a moment. The Pharisee may address God, but the gospel starts by saying the Pharisee prays to himself. Second, the Pharisee is the best in his own mind. Listen how often his prayer has the word “I” in it. And rather than seeking the grace of God and his mercy and forgiveness, upon which we all rely, he does just the opposite. He makes it a point to tell God how wonderful his is and how awful everyone else is. The one who goes home saved is the publican, the tax collector in the back who knows who he is. A sinner. One in need of God’s mercy. One who knows that even though he does not deserve God’s mercy, he can receive it if he asks with humility. What about you? Do you pray to God, or do you pray to yourself?