Is God Unfair?

Clergy Corner by Fr. David A. Runnion

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezk 18:25-28, Ps 25:4-9, Php 2:1-11, Mt 21:28-32

Does life sometimes seem unfair? If so, are we tempted to think that God is unfair?

 For example, if we have led a pretty good life, but slip into sin, do we expect God to overlook our sin? God's response to such erroneous thinking is: "When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, [and] he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life" (Ezk 18:26-27).

The Psalmist had the right disposition in saying, "teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior," and then beseeching God's mercy for his sins and frailties (Ps 25:4-5, 6-11).

A key to life is doing the Lord's will, not our own or the world's. Jesus illustrates this in the Parable of the Two Sons. One son readily tells his father he will go work in the family vineyard, but he never goes. The other says he will not go, but thereafter does go and work in the vineyard. The one who ends up going is the one who did the father's will.

Jesus is chiding the chief priests and elders – and teaching us a lesson – for giving lip service to doing God's will, but in fact rejecting both John the Baptist's and Jesus' call to genuine repentance and obedience to God. God gives us the opportunity to repent of sinful conduct, to change our rebellious ways, and to get back in his will. The Lord is ready to forgive us and promptly restore us to our rightful place in His Kingdom.

Of course, an ideal son would readily go to work in the family vineyard, without complaining or resisting. Such an approach comes from a right interior disposition, which St. Paul exhorts us to manifest in this way:

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others (Php 2:3-4).

Our character is revealed by how we live. The Lord grants us ample grace to live as He did, and therein lies the joyful life of God's Kingdom.

May we embrace the Lord's will, serve him faithfully, and fully enjoy life in the Kingdom. 


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