18 September 2020
18 Sep 2020

The Lord is righteous in all His ways

by  Gonzalo Arnáiz Álvarez, scj

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Isaiah 55:6-9 tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. God’s ways are always immersed with “forgiveness” and “mercy”. God’s ways are always an offer of salvation. A permanent offer that is born from the love He has for us.

We usually appeal to legalistic justice and mathematical equity. Perhaps we could say that we appeal to “an eye for an eye” in almost all ordinary relationships and measure quite stingy the good works of others, overvaluing our own.

God (Father) is overflowing in mercy. Slow to anger and rich in mercy. Mercy is born of a determined choice in absolute freedom to place oneself at the side of the one in need. It is to put one’s heart on the side of the little-poor-sinner. God purposely puts His heart next to ours. He makes our cause his cause and bet on our successes by becoming our companion on the way. God’s plans are that we have life and life in abundance. The prophet tells us that the Lord comes to meet us and searches for us passionately.

Matthew 20:1-6 tells us the parable of Jesus where this merciful attitude of the Father is reflected in the task of building His Kingdom. When we hear this parable, all of our alarms goes off because it seems to us a sovereign of injustice takes place when one who works one hour earns the same as one who works 12 hours. It is clear that Jesus seeks to provoke these alarms so that we may reflect on the values of the Kingdom, and perhaps, if we enter into them we will be less “just”.

The parable is addressed to followers of Jesus, to those who have already made a choice to follow. All of us want to be disciples of Jesus. What do we look for in our following of Jesus? A salary, recognition, title, or honors? Or do we look for a task or mission from a gift received?

If we are looking for “a payment” we have not overcome the Pharisaic mood. I earn heaven because I deserve it with the exact fulfillment of the Law. The Kingdom of God is my conquest instead of God’s grace. If this is the criteria, the owner of the vineyard is a good man. But nothing is built that way.They only feed the lazy and the wicked. And with these you have to have strong hands.Besides, how is it going to be the same if I have given my whole life for the Kingdom working in unsuspected and painful borders as the one who has wasted his assets between bacchanals and parties, in the end … has the same prize as me.

If we are looking for “a task or mission” because we have found a gift (the precious pearl) then the task itself is lived as a gift and there is no measure for surrender and work because before I have been given without measure by God Himself. I have been found with Love and I give back what I have received by loving my brother and God intensely (or vice versa, jointly, or symbolically). Working first thing in the morning will be an honor, overflowing with joy because I have been found from the beginning by the Love of my life. Being in the Father’s house, the best thing is to live knowing that I am “son” or lord of the estate. To make it sound better we will say we are co-heirs with Christ and therefore are working on “something of our own” and not as a stranger. I will rejoice that the more who enter the Father’s house, the better. If someone is late in discovering the call to be a “son” I will be immensely grateful that he discovered it and I will regret that it was not sooner because for him, it would have been better to have discovered God the Father from the beginning.

I will always thank God because He called me first thing in the morning and the payment has already been given to me from the beginning. God gives Himself at the beginning, during, and after this life. His presence is always enveloping and rewarding. It is given to us for free so that we may give ourselves for free.

If God’s ways are paved with mercy, let our ways be of mercy: let us put our hearts next to God and where God places it – next to the marginalized.

If God’s ways are born from the gratuitousness of His love, let us also live our love or our fraternity from gratuity and gift.

If God’s ways pass through the paths of the Incarnate Word, let us follow in His footsteps and let our lives be co-living with Christ and let “being with Christ” be our expected and desired horizon.

If God’s ways pass through the task of evangelization, may our task be assumed as work in the house of the Father and therefore we never seek payment because we know we are paid in advance.

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