25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sept. 18, 2011)

Many people have an incredibly hard time with Sunday’s story of the Vineyard Laborers. It’s so unfair, we think, that those who worked for an hour got the same pay as those who worked all day. It’s so unfair that death-bed conversions, for example, merit the same reward as one who has labored all his/her life to be a good Christian.

Here’s a story that puts another light on that parable.

“It was time for my final exam. When I got to class, everybody was doing their last minute studying. The teacher came in and said he would review with us for a little bit before the test. Most of the review was right on the study guide, but there were some things he was reviewing that I had never heard of. When questioned about it, he said that they were in the book and we were responsible for everything in the book. We couldn’t really argue with that.

“Finally it was time to take the test. ‘Leave them face down on the desk until I tell you to start,’ our prof instructed. When everyone had their copy, we turned them over, and found every answer on the test already filled in! The bottom of the last page said the following:

“‘This is the end of the Final Exam. All the answers on your test are correct. You will receive an ‘A’ on the final exam. The reason you passed the test is because the creator of the test took it for you. All the work you did in preparation for this test did not help you get the A. You have just experienced…grace.’

“He then went around the room and asked each student individually, “What is your grade? Do you deserve the grade you are receiving? How much did all your studying for this exam help you achieve your final grade?”

If there is still upset over the fairness/unfairness of God’s ways, try this. Imagine your life as an 8-hour day, or a 40-hour week. Can you honestly say that you have put in a solid 8 hour day, or a solid 40 hour week of being a Christian, of following the Gospel? If you haven’t, then perhaps gratitude might be a better response to God’s goodness than complaints.

Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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