A recent Gospel reading tells the story of the laborers in the vineyard, and how the owner paid those who only worked one hour exactly what he paid those who worked all day long. Naturally (in human terms) the latter got angry with a perceived injustice, and the owner wondered why they couldn’t recognize and accept his generosity to the others.
The “Give Us This Day” reflection was an eye opener for me! Paul Holmes laid out God’s gospel lesson: if the work we do to get into heaven doesn’t “matter,” it must be because we can’t earn heaven! Heresy!!!
Why? Because we have been taught that in most of life’s arenas we all must work to achieve a goal; we don’t expect to succeed by way of some kind of handout – we have to earn what we want. And in our religious training we have all learned exactly what we must do to gain heaven!
But what do we do with God’s incredible generosity to the deathbed “penitent” or “convert?” They seemingly can slide under the pearly gates at the last minute while we’ve spent decades being kind and compassionate, avoiding occasions of sin, praying all the time, trying to worship God in many ways?
Again, Jesus seems to be saying, “You can’t earn heaven!!”
Well, what if one message of this gospel is not to worry about attaining eternal happiness? What if Jesus is telling us that heaven can exist here on earth now, in our hearts, in our families and friends, in our giving and receiving God’s compassion? It feels as though Jesus is saying be kind now, be happy now, be grateful now, be aware now, be ALIVE NOW!! And he will take care of the rest.