Despite hating english in school I do recall once learning about the importance of a catchy headline!
Of course God is a fair God but this morning’s gospel reading challenges us a little!
It is the parable of the workers and how at the end of the day they all got the same wages despite the fact that some did a full days work and others only an hour….
Perhaps the core line is “has nobody hired you” which echoes another passage in the bible where a man was waiting over 30 years to be healed and for someone to lift him into the pool!
In this parable of the workers the master saw that the men were not lazy men, just nobody had hired them! Had they been hired earlier they would have done the work too!
As I reflect on this I think of the life of new converts!
New converts to christianity are in some ways like the waiting workers! Through no fault of their own they haven’t been hired so to speak!
Many have grown up in abusive families who did not know God, others have grown up in other religions or in today’s system of atheism….
And so when they experience God they know nothing at the start about the church and they have mountains of inner wounds and fears and vices!
To the workers who were working all day (those who grew up with a good family and faith) these new converts seem unruly, undisciplined and wild!
It’s not long before division breaks out between “them” and “us”.
Saint Therese of the child Jesus has the answer!
Her humility allowed her to see that it was an act of mercy on behalf of God that she grew up with extremely prayerful and loving parents!
Her dad adored her, went to mass every day and was often to be found on his knees in prayer. How many of us may say that about our dads?
Personally I only ever saw my dad on his knees when he was pulling a calf and besides going to mass on a Sunday he never showed any interest in God or prayer or my life for that matter!
And I’m not alone! Many of us have had upbringings which did very little to bring us closer to God and church!
And as the worker who was hired at the last minute many of us have experienced the grace of conversion later in life.
At times the church is a hostile place for us! We make mistakes, we say the wrong thing or dress in the wrong way and the wolves start howling and criticising us!
We have many wounds to heal from and often heavy pasts from things like drugs and sex, often we have no support from our own families and so it hurts when our new family begins to judge us and point out all our faults as if we were somehow unworthy of God’s mercy !
Conversion and healing takes time! It is like learning english when english is not your native language! Native speakers must learn to be patient with us and accept like Therese that was it not for God’s grace they could be in our situation!
So my message to you today is simple! Don’t be like the grumbling workers grumbling to the master about their wages but instead be workers of mercy!
Thank God for your faith, be humble and ask God to give you love, mercy and patience for those who were not as fortunate and are converting and healing one day at a time!