The parable of the workers in the vineyard in the Bible is a really powerful parable; one of the most difficult parable to follow. (Cf : Mathew 20:1–16). The parable speaks of a landowner who invites the workers to work at his field as he sees them standing without work. The interesting point is that he pays all the workers equally, whether they have worked for one hour or the full eight hours. He paid the workers who did eight hours work as it was promised. But the interesting point is, one who worked less too got the same amount. It is very normal for a worker to feel jealous (I would have). But Jesus is abnormal in his dealings. This is the struggle for any of his followers — to accept this abnormality.
Now I wish to extend this parable a little further. Let’s assume that the owner has other fields and he has appointed workers there too. So when all are called at evening, the worker of field A wouldn’t even know why the worker of field B/C is being paid (as he is unaware of field B or workers there). Surely there would be more murmurings.
Now I extend the parable a little further — the owner is going out to the street at 4:59 pm (the work is supposed to end at 5:00 pm). He finds some workers there standing idly. He invites them too. They don’t get any time to do the work, but they too are being paid. Now seeing them getting wages, murmurings increase.
We have a land owner who is merciful and compassionate — probably the one who is foolish from the worldly standards. It is extremely difficult to accept this contradiction. They are called to be the workers or followers of a land owner who is so foolish with his decisions. Now in this context, I would like to place two actions of Pope Francis.
- “Why did God let this happen to us?” the young Filipino girl of 12 years asked, covering her face with her hands as she sobbed. Rather than giving a theologically dense answer, Pope Francis struggled to answer her. He says sometimes there is no answer on why children suffer. Probably rather than answering such questions, he is asking all, whether I weep when I see the suffering in the humanity. Only eyes cleaned with tears can see certain realities of life. He may not have a perfect answer for why, but he has a response… what God will do and what we should do..
- A young boy Emanuele wanted to know from Pope Francis, whether his father who was an non-believer, was in heaven? Francis goes beyond the teachings of catechism and says, God (not Pope/church/teachings) is the one who decides who should go to Heaven. Pope Francis assures that God is a loving father and he won’t/cant leave Emanuele’s father as he was a good man.
I am not going to make the connections between the parable (and my additions to it) and the two examples of the interactions of Pope Francis with children. Everything assures us that God is a loving father/mother; God is a mystery too. So better live life and stop judging others. Stop being God just because you might be leading a good life or because you know a lot of theology.
I end with a question especially to the most of the good Catholics… After your death, assume that you reach heaven… You see many non-believers and the people whom you have never expected in the heaven… What will be your feelings? I think your response will determine the depth of your faith in a loving God.