“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways, says the Lord.” (Is. 55:8)
This quote from the first reading for Sunday says it all. Jesus was well aware of this, and the story we read in today’s Gospel, about the people hired to work in the vineyard, illustrates it. We don’t know the reaction of the listeners to this story. We do know the reaction of the characters, and we know our own reaction to the story.
When we stop and think about it, we realise that the reaction of the characters in the story are the same as ours on the real-life stage. Why did she get that? I deserved more! I once heard someone comment at a jubilee celebration that all she got was a yellow rose after all her years of dedication.
It’s strange that for centuries even millennia, we of the human species have gone to great lengths to make God’s (or the Divine Being) ways get in line with our human ways, and then we turn around and claim that our ‘righteous’ ways of behaving and organising ourselves are actually God’s ways. Thus, in religions, we have what we call the law of God, on which all our justice systems were originally based and continue to be based in many religious cultures. But whose laws are they?
Yet we hear that God’s ways are not our ways. Jesus, in whom all Christians profess a faith, quoted the Hebrew Scriptures as he proclaimed ‘all the law and prophets come down to this – love God and love your neighbour’. But this doesn’t sit well with our logical minds. You cannot devise a system of rules and regulations for real love. You cannot write a tome of rewards and punishments. Love is the Spirit of God and blows where it will. Loving is having the Spirit of God breathe in and out of our hearts and souls. It is lavish with its time and talent and seeks no reward or recognition. It is wild and carefree, has no price-tag and fails all tests of calculation.
Yes, God’s ways are not our ways. Jesus knew that, but his ways were God’s ways of abundant and unsparing love. He told us that he was the way. So if we follow, our ways can become God’s ways of abundant and unsparing love. If that were passed around our globe what a healing of the earth and humanity would happen!
Elizabeth Ferguson, O.P.