Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I was in Orlando for a Board meeting on Friday and had a couple hours at the airport waiting for some of my colleagues to arrive. I found a nice little place outside the Disney Store with a plug to recharge my cell phone and proceeded to people watch.
All sorts of people pass through the Orlando airport, but the one performance that repeats like clockwork is the little kid, usually 3-4 years old, who has a bad case of the crankies. The dialogue to this play usually goes something like this:
Parents: Now we need to get the bags.
Kid: But I don’t understand, I wanna see Mickey Mouse!
Parents: Now we have to get the rental car.
Kid: No, I wanna see Mickey!
Parents: Now we drive to the Hotel.
Kid: No! Mickey! Mickey! Mickey!
You know how piercing the weeping screams of a three year old’s tantrum can be?
And that’s what today’s Gospel is about. God’s the Boss. And he pays everyone the same thing. But the shop stewards don’t understand and protest loudly. And how does God respond: What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Are you envious because I am generous?
Jesus does not give us this parable as a model on how to run a business, of course. It’s much simpler than that. He gives it to us to tell us that most of the time we’re not going to be able to figure out why something happens; For his ways are, in the words of Sirach, as high above our ways and the heavens are above the earth.
He is God. And we are his little creatures. Weak, foolish, and so often incapable of discerning his will for us, never mind the grand schemes of his plan for creation.
Why does a particular person die at a particular time and in a particular way?
We lodge our protests! No, Lord! You messed it up. He should not have suffered like that!
Why does one get rich and another (usually you or me) stay poor?
Again, we protest! No, Lord! You must have forgot. I was supposed to win the lottery!
Why do I get cancer, or heart disease, or Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
Don’t you remember, Lord?! After all I’ve done for you! Are you an ingrate?!
And each time, there we are: little tiny us, before the immensity of the Eternal God through whom all things were made; We are like the three year old, who doesn’t want to wait for the bags or the car, but wants to see Mickey, right now!
But you know what the parent did every time in the Orlando airport? The same thing God does.
He looks with love on us in our littleness. And holds us close in our pain and neurotic befuddlement. And he loves us all the more and tries patiently to teach us his ways, the ways of love...the infinite love of a God who loves us unto death, giving up even his last breath and the last drop of blood in love.. And in his inscrutable plan, he asks us simply to do the same.