The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our ways are not God's ways

While sitting and waiting for Church to begin a visitor gets strange looks from parish members as they walk in to be seated. Just when the visitor thought he should leave a guy smiles and greats him. The visitor explains to the member how he feels uncomfortable but was convinced to stay. Explaining to the visitor that the members were not all that bad, the visitor asks the member if he knows everyone at the Church. When the member tells him "no" he asks him how he knew that he was a visitor. This is when he informs the visitor that he was sitting in "his" seat.

When sin entered the world all bets were off for a perfect world. Such behaviors were to be expected, however Jesus taught us through parables and teachings how we ought to live our lives. The story of the landowner and the laborers is so relatable that you probably have at least one laborer at your Parish who fits the glove perfectly. How about at your workplace or even within our schools. The thought of deserving more because of long standing service is evident all around us.

Recently my son indicated to me that he had forgotten to turn in his prefect badge before the end of the last school year. I said to him that maybe they will assign him prefect again( of course I'm thinking that they should because of his character, and of course because he's my son), but he said no because they will give it to the top 2 students from his class. Whether it's the right way to assign a child as prefect or not I was quick to assume that my son should be considered for the post once again.

As simple as that may have seemed I was probably just as guilty as the laborers in the parable of today's reading "Mt 20:1-16", where they had expected higher wages for putting in more time than those who began shortly before the end of the work day. I had automatically assumed that my son was more qualified "attitude wise" for the title as prefect, without considering the school's procedures for appointing prefects.
Jesus uses parables not to confuse us, but rather to illustrate how our ways are not God's ways. Employers would cringe at the thought of paying a worker a full days pay for working one hour. Here we see the workers lined up on purpose in order that they each know what the other is paid. This obviously sets the tone for a lesson, so we should not get caught up in the notion that the message is about how you are to pay your workers.

As Christians we make up the body of Christ. When we sin we hurt the entire body. One of the most difficult commandments for many to live out is to love your neighbors as yourself. Is it Ok to claim ownership of a particular seat or pew at Church? Are there special seats at your Parish for long standing members or for members who are known to make great financial contributions?

A friend tells me that when she arrives to Church she walks straight up to the front row where she always sit. If someone is sitting there she asks them to please move down. There are many other seats in the Church but this is where she sits on every occasion she goes to Church. Does being a long standing member give us the right to demand first class seating and treated any different than that of a visitor or a poor person who can probably only afford to put $1.00 in collection every week? Each member should be treated equally and this is the message Jesus was passing on.

Turning back to the parable of the landowner and the laborers, we see God's generosity and love. He expects the same from us. The laborers hired first can be viewed as those who were Christians for a very long time, in service to God. The other workers hired at different times represent those who accepted Jesus call at different times. Let's not assume that because we are long standing parish members that we are more worthy of praise and recognition. Whether you've been a Christian for thirty years, or for one day, both are welcomed into God's Kingdom at the same time with the same fan fare and reward (eternal life with God in Heaven).

Are you kidding me? You're telling me that having served God for the last thirty years I will share the same lime light with someone who says "I do" one day before Jesus returns? How is that fair one may ask? This is also how employees react when a junior employee is promoted over everyone having only been with the company for a very short time. Such a reaction can spring up many of the seven deadly sins including envy, anger, and pride. The disciples also argued about who was the greatest as seen in Luke 9:46-48. Jesus had to break it down for them by saying that "the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest". Do not believe for a second that there will not be several lines to get into Heaven; one for those who made over a certain amount of money annually, a line for those who lived on the street, a line for those who were Christians for thirty plus years or a line for those who were saved within the last week. No my friends we are all going through the same pearly white gates. How daunting that must be for some of us.

Just remember that our ways are not God's ways. While preparing this article I remembered a commercial on television that is so similar to the story of the landowner and the laborers. The producers must have thought along those lines when developing this AD, but that poor little girl who was denied a live pony. It must have hurt just as it must have hurt the laborers who agreed on their wage only to receive the same as one who worked only an hour.

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts".

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