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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Looby

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023

How many of you have ever felt that life is simply not fair? Well, you're not alone.

We learn this lesson early on when we realize a younger sibling is getting special privileges that we never had.

Or maybe you've witnessed it in the workplace, where veteran employees find themselves sidelined by newcomers. Even retired athletes, who gave their all on the field, can't help but feel the unfairness when they see current stars signing contracts worth millions.

This unfairness extends even to matters of health and chance. Some people do everything right—exercise, healthy eating, avoiding bad habits—and yet, they get ill. While others who ignore these good practices continue to thrive.

We've all seen instances where the well-to-do win big lotteries, while the working class scrape together the change for a ticket and win nothing. Life is simply unfair.

In a world that often seems to distribute luck, health, and even love unfairly, we may be tempted to think that God operates on the same principles. But, as I was reminded last Sunday, God has His own sense of fairness—a divine fairness rooted in boundless love and mercy.

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to help hearing confessions at a penance service at St. James Church in Lake Pleasant.

During this service, a woman came to me for confession. "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned; it's been several years since my last confession," she said.

"Really? Welcome back!" I replied.

She went on to tell me she had been away from the Church for years but started attending Mass again six months ago.

"How is it going?" I asked. "Wonderful! I am so happy to be back!" she exclaimed.

That's when it hit me: In God's eyes, the 'fairness' we often look for doesn't really apply. The woman who returned to the Church was welcomed just as warmly as someone who never left. And why? Because the God we worship is not a God of fairness; He is a God of love.

Our gospel today illustrates this beautifully. In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, it's not about when you showed up; it's about showing up. The workers who come late receive the same wages as those who were there from the beginning.

Is it 'fair'? Not by our standards. But it is love.

I’d rather have a God who is love than a God who is fair. I bet the woman at the penance service would agree, and I suspect many of you would too.

Life isn't fair, but God’s love levels the playing field. He doesn't measure or weigh our worthiness.

His arms are open for us whether we return after a long absence, or whether we've been faithfully by His side all along.

Let's remember that while life may not be fair, God's love is always just, merciful, and abundant. He invites us to a life not dictated by the world's standards of fairness but enriched by divine love.

So, as you receive the Eucharist today, let this moment move you to action. Reach out to someone who has been away from the Church. Invite a friend to Mass next Sunday. Share a comforting word with someone going through hardship. Or maybe simply say “welcome” to someone who is discovering our church or our faith for the first time.

Because in God's vineyard, everyone is welcome, and there's always room for one more.

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