GOD IS GOOD TO ALL
Without doubt it is one of Jesus’ most surprising and provocative parables. We usually call it «the parable of the workers in the vineyard». However the protagonist is the owner of the vineyard. Some investigators today call it «the parable of the owner who wanted work and bread for all».
This man goes out personally to the plaza to contract different groups of workers. The first at 6:00 AM, others at 9:00, later at noon, and at 3:00 in the afternoon. He contracts the last ones at 5:00 PM, when there’s only one hour left of the workday.
His conduct is strange. He doesn’t seem pressed by the harvest. What he wants is that those people don’t end up without work. That’s why he goes out even at the last hour to give work to those whom no one had called. And that’s why at the end of the workday, he gives to all the denarius that they need to eat that night, even those who haven’t earned it. When the first ones protest, this is his answer: «Why should you be envious because I am generous?».
What is Jesus suggesting? Is it that God doesn’t act according to criteria of justice and equality that we adhere to? Would it be true that, instead of measuring the merits of people, God seeks to respond to our needs?
It’s not easy to believe in the unfathomable goodness of God of which Jesus is speaking. Many can be scandalized that God is good to all, whether they merit it or not, whether they’re believers or agnostics, whether they invoke God’s name or go about ignoring God. But God is like that. And it’s best to let God be God, without reducing God with our ideas or plans.
The image that not a few Christians have of God is that of a «conglomerate» of various and even contradictory elements. Some aspects come from Jesus, others from the judgmental God of the Old Testament, others from our own fears and fantasies. Therefore, the goodness of God with all God’s creatures ends up lost or distorted.
One of the most important tasks of any Christian community would be to always deepen more each day the experience of God lived out by Jesus. Only the witness of such a God will bring a different hope into the world.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf