Rejoice in the Good Fortune of Others

Matthew 20:1-6

“That’s not fair!” “Fair play.” “Be fair.” How many times have you heard kids complain about something not being fair? How many times have you heard adults take about something not being fair. Gee, my coffee is even “fair trade.” So, we have a big emphasis in this world on fairness.

Sadly, fairness is not always fair. Past unfair situations are usually “remedied” by implementation of a current unfair situation, which lead the people on the losing end to be embittered and waiting for “their turn.

Why all this concern about fair and unfair? To be frank it is a manifestation of our sin. Usually those who scream loudest about something being unfair are those who want what the other guy has or are afraid someone else might get something they aren’t getting.

Take a look at this week’s gospel. The laborers who worked all day didn’t like the fact that those who worked only an hour received the same wages they did. They felt it unfair even though they received what the owner promised them for the work agreed upon. Rather than being happy that the others would be able to feed their families they griped and complained despite the fact that they lost nothing by the other people’s good fortune and the generosity of the owner.

Rather than looking at things in the light of fair/unfair we should look at things in the terms of righteousness/unrighteousness and justice/injustice. In this sense the workers who came late and those who worked all day received righteousness and justice and the arbitrary idea of fairness doesn’t enter into the picture.

In life, like the vineyard owner, God is perfectly righteous and just even if we do not always see it, dimmed as our eyes are with human imperfections and sin. Rather than being envious of what the other guy has (a form of covetousness) we should rejoice in his (or her) good fortune. By doing so we would be less likely to detest our own state in life and thereby be able to find greater joy.

Generous and just Father, I thank you for all you have given me and all the blessings you have bestowed upon others. Help me to rejoice in the good fortune of others and be satisfied with what I receive through your gracious hand. AMEN.