God is Fair – Willy Samson, SJ

Matthew 20:1-16, Wednesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time

It’s Unfair!

We cried out, “It’s not fair” when we are at the disadvantage. But we are silent when we enjoy all the blessings while others are not. Envy is one of the root of our unhappiness. Sometimes, we are unhappy not because we lack something in life, but we see someone receiving or enjoying more blessings than us. Envy disallows us to rejoice to the good fortune that others have received.

In our Gospel today, the workers hired in the morning have agreed to work for the minimum wage. No one protested because this was fair enough. But at the end of the day, they protested when the late afternoon workers also received one full day’s wage. The morning workers felt cheated. But the landowner was fair to them from the beginning. In reality, they were unhappy because they did not benefit the landowner’s unexpected generosity. It was simply envy. Thus, the landowner said, ” “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why should you be envious because I am generous?”

Thus, envy is simply defined as “our inability to rejoice with others to the good fortune or blessings they received from God.”

In our own standards, we may say it’s unfair. But not in God’s standards. When the landowner chose to give full day wage to the late afternoon workers, he might have seen the necessity of giving them more. Maybe he saw the need of giving more for the sake of their hungry children. Or maybe, somebody was sick or needed more assistance. There are valid reasons for such acts of generosity, but is this important to us? Let’s be more concerned with our own reactions, especially our inability to rejoice with others’ blessings or good fortune.

Are we not supposed to be happy when others “in need” receive more blessings than us? Are we not supposed to be happy when we are not sick? Or we are not poor? Or we have a house to sleep in, food to eat, or a better life than others? God is not unfair to us, we are more blessed than others. So, why should we entertain envy for the good fortune of others? God knows what’s best for us, and what’s best for others.

God is fair to all. A mother is not fair when she gives more attention to one of her children who is sick or needs more attention. We should be happy that God is giving more blessings to others. We should rejoice with our neighbor’s good fortune. And not sulk in envy for receiving less or nothing. God knows our needs. Be more concerned with the needs of others, and not just our personal needs. Think with God in thinking of others who have less in this world.

The antidote to envy is love. Think more of others and less of ourselves, and you will see that God is fair.

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