Reflecting on Matthew 20: 1-16a
We were celebrating my husband Ben’s birthday last month when I was delighted to hear this story about him from his childhood. Only Ben! Said his sister Lynda. Only Ben would go around the table when we were kids, show us all his hand, and then teach us what cards to play to beat him.
It’s a family trait. Our three little nieces used to squeal in delight at whatever gift their brother was receiving on his birthday. They never counted the presents under the tree. It was all delight, all joy, all grace.
But would they have been as gracious if, twenty years later, they labored all day in the hot Mediterranean sun, only to find that the ones who worked the last hour of the day received the same wages as they? Doubtful.
It’s the Original Sin, the Original Suspicion. Somebody is getting a better deal than we are. Somebody is more loved than we are. Somebody has access to more of God’s grace than we do.
Just watch a baby with her adoring parents. She has all the love a parent can possibly shower on her, but let the parent’s gaze leave her for just a moment, ESPECIALLY if the gaze should wander over to another beloved child, and she will guide the parent’s gaze back to her.
WH Auden wrote: The error bred in the bone…craves what it cannot have. Not universal love, but to be loved alone.
But that’s where we’re wrong. Love is not a nonrenewable resource. The love that we receive? That’s the love that goes right back into the world, to every vineyard worker, no matter what time he clocked in.
In what ways do you delight when others succeed?
Kathy McGovern ©2023