Have you ever fallen into the pattern of thinking that if you’ve done more for God than others, you deserve more gifts and graces than others? If so, you’ve fallen into the lesson of today’s Gospel. This is for all you Catholic overachievers out there.
We live in a world where we’re rewarded for our effort most of the time. You put in the hours and the work and generally, life rewards you for it. Your pay increases. You get a nice bonus. Your responsibility expands. You get promoted.
But that’s not always how God works.
Grace is this free gift that God can and does give to anyone, even those who do less of the work and come to God later in their lives. God can be as generous as He wants to any of His children regardless of the efforts they put in.
This is a really hard lesson for me to grasp. I am your classic “achiever” and so inevitably I think that God will reward me for my efforts, but it hasn’t worked that way. Yes, God has been generous in many ways, but I have not received all of the gifts I’ve wanted that I see others get who seem to have little to no relationship with God or sense of responsibility for serving others.
Inevitably I wonder, “Why God have you given these gifts to others and not to your servant who has spent so many years serving you in various capacities?” It’s easy to fall into questions of justice when you see blessings poured out to those who haven’t done much for God.
In a way, the Gospel reassures me that there is a reward for those that put in the longer work, but it’s the same reward as those that put in less work. God’s graces and blessings aren’t earned, but rather given freely by a good, generous, and merciful God who loves all His children equally regardless of how close they are to Him or how much they do for Him.
We can’t earn His amazing grace. A hard, but necessary lesson about God's character.
I’m reminded of the song “Amazing Grace” that I chose for one of my wedding songs at Communion time. I knew that my husband was a gift and blessing from God that I had not earned, but rather was given, and that was quite an amazing grace of a merciful God – much like Jesus’ body and blood given over for us - not earned, but given. In all my brokenness and sin, in all my imperfections, God still gave me these two beautiful gifts. And perhaps that’s exactly what He’s doing in the lives of others as well.
So today, if you’re one of those Catholic achievers like me, think about one of those graces that you were given but didn’t earn, and it may help you understand this Gospel.