The Cookie Split and the Gospel

September 24th Sunday Readings.

Have you ever had to split a cookie or a piece of cake with a sibling? If you did, when youChocolate_chip_cookiewere a kid, then you may have heard what I heard as a kid, “Honey, you can split the cookie, but then your sister has the first pick of which half she wants.”

The precision to break that cookie perfectly in half so that I didn’t get cheated and my sister didn’t get more was off the charts. If I had access to a jeweler’s scale, I would have broken it out to make sure that the cookie halves were exactly even, down to the nanogram. May it was just me, but I thought even = fair.

Nobody likes to get cheated. We have a natural, God given, desire that justice is done. It’s why we get perturbed at the the guy who cuts up in the traffic back up. It’s why we can never seem to pick the right grocery store checkout line. It’s why we ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Life should be fair.

It’s why the people who work all day in Jesus’ parable get frustrated when the group that only works for a little while gets the same pay. The parable goes against our sense of fairness. So what exactly is Jesus getting at?

Jesus starts the parable by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner…” Stop right there. Jesus is comparing the kingdom to a person. the kingdom of heaven is intimate lived relationship with Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is full communion and intimacy with the Trinity. So when someone works for the kingdom, the usual daily wage isn’t gold or power or a perfectly split cookie. No, the usually daily wage is unconditional love, perfect joy, and total fulfillment. Everyone gets paid the same because everyone gets paid more than they could even want or need.

When it comes to the cookie, there is a finite amount of cookie. The more my sister got; the less I got. But when it comes to God’s love there is no limit. I can have limitless unconditional love and you can have limitless unconditional love.

With that in mind the objections of the people who worked all day isn’t justice, but jealously. They are jealous of those who received what they received but for less sacrifice.

Does being jealous make you joyful?

Of course not. God is never out done in his generosity. We will only be joyful if we are willing to accept and celebrate God’s generosity and mercy to others.

Live It:
Celebrate someone else’s victory, even if it is a small one. Send a note, buy a coffee, or say a prayer of thanks giving on their behalf – whatever will honor them.

The Good Word for Sunday Sept 21

For the complete readings click here.

If I had a nickel for every time I screamed the words, “But mom, it isn’t FAIR!” at my mother when I was a kid, I would have more than a little walking around money. I was the oldest and nothing ever seemed “fair” to me. My sister got bigger pieces of pie and small punishments. She got more attention and a later curfew. I felt like that first laborer who worked all day in the sun and received the same wage as the guy who worked for only an hour – life isn’t fair.

Our gospel this week isn’t about fairness or about salary distribution, but about the inconceivable abundance of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is so “wealthy” with God’s infinite love that no matter when you or I come to receive God’s love and mercy, we always receive a full measure.

One could hear this story and say that the landowner was foolish and unwise with his pay scale, but in reality he is a landowner so wealthy that he never has to worry about how much he pays his employees. The same is true of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is overflowing with love and mercy for us to the point that God never has to worry about running out. God’s love is endless, infinite, and unconditional.

The workers in the story don’t get paid because they worked hard and long. No they get paid simply for saying “yes.” The workers all get a full day’s wage for saying yes to the landowner, for following him from the town square to his vineyard, and for choosing his land to work. If we want to receive God’s love and mercy, all we have to do is say yes to his invitation.
How is the way you live you life a “yes” to God?

Live it:
Before going to sleep tonight, ask God how you can yes with your life? Rest in silence for 2 minutes and listen.