Isaiah 55: 6-9 – Philippians 1: 20c-24, 27 – 1 Matthew 20: 1-16a
For many of us, the year 2020, will be one that we would, most likely, want to forget. I believe this to be true regardless of whatever way we might have been affected by the coronavirus: death, hospitalization, illness or the inconveniences and disruptions which have been caused in so many different ways. However we might have been dealing with the virus and its effect, I am certain that the questions has often been asked: “Why?” So many times, however, the simple raising of this question, “Why?” implies that if I had been in charge rather than God, things would have been different.
We can understand God’s speaking to us in the Scriptures we heard today as addressing this very point. In the parable which Jesus used this is especially evident. The owner in the story is presenting as acting contrary to the way in which a normal employer would work. Yet the object of the story is clear. God is the employer. He freely and generously gives according to Divine standards and purposes. In essence, it is a story that illustrates the line we heard from Isaiah in the first reading. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways. ”God’s thoughts and ways are elevated far above our limited human ways.
Those “ways” are exactly what are questioned when we ask “Why.” This is especially true when we ask “Why?” about things that involve pain or suffering, to a pandemic such as we are experiencing.
Perhaps the “Why?” we ask ought to be viewed from another perspective. Why am I alive? Why have I been given this gift of life? Why am I here? Why can I see, or hear, or taste? Why can I appreciate all the good and beautiful things that surround me? Why can I experience the joy of loving and being loved, the joy of friends and people who are a part of my life and genuinely care for me?
The answer to all of these question also reflects that God’s ways are not our ways. The answer is found in knowing what God is: God is love. God wished to share love with creation. God wished other beings to experience simply being, and being loved. Because of God’s love, we have all that belongs to us. All of this is the result of God’s generosity, of the Divine giving of self. But having created all of this, having give all of this to us, what happened? It was rejected through a sinful, selfish choice by mankind. Even then, however, God did not give up. God sent the Son to win us back. The unending, enduring love of God for us – that is the answer to “Why?”
We van ask the question “Why?” about those things that are tragic. But we must also as the question “Why?” about those that are joyous. The only answer which can be found for both is God’s love. This may be more evident in those things which are good. But no less is the love for God found, if we sincerely search for it, in those things that appear painful to us..
If we would absorb the depth of God’s love for us, the we can assume the attitude of Saint Paul as he faced imprisonment and even death. What was most important to him was the reality of God’s saving love for him that was seen by him in Jesus Christ..
So often we may not know the answer to give to those who question “Why?” But we are to show our response by lives and actions that express a true conviction and trust in a god and gracious God.