Her Doctrine and Morals

Septuagesima Sunday

12 February 2017


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Dear Friend,

Today we are reminded of the goodness and generosity of God. In the parable given us today, we see that all who labored received the same reward — the day's wage. So it is this way at the end of this world, all those who have labored and loved God to the end, will receive the reward of Heaven.

There is no one who can claim Heaven as due to himself; it is always given as a gift from God. The longest life here on earth, which is lived in the service of God, falls very short of meriting an eternal reward. The only life here on earth that was truly meritorious was that of Jesus Christ. It is through His merits that we are able to lay claim to a reward of our labors. Our labors only have merit or value when His merits are united with our works.

The men in the parable that only worked one hour, yet received the wages of an entire day, show us the generosity of God. It is easy to see this from the parable given in today's Gospel. However, the same is true of those who labored the whole day. They are human and so, even their best efforts were tainted or stained — their work was not perfect. Yet, in spite of this, they too, received the perfect wage of the day's pay. St. John Chrysostom suggests to us that we are missing the point if we focus upon the envy of the men who worked the most, yet received the same as the others.

Jesus gave us this parable to teach us of His Goodness. We have no need to be envious of those who were given the reward of eternal life. It in no way deprives us of anything that is our due. Our mistake is in comparing ourselves to one another. Jesus did not instruct us to live and labor as our neighbor does. He does not desire our comparing ourselves to others. This is why the proud Pharisee boasting in the Temple was rejected and the humble repentant publican was accepted.

God has not given us other men for our guides; but has given us Himself to follow. We are instructed to take up our daily crosses and follow Him. We are told not to learn from other men what to do, but rather learn of Him, because He is meek and humble of heart. We are instructed to strive for perfection because our Heavenly Father is perfect.

If we must compare ourselves to someone, we must use as our measure and guide Jesus Christ — the Son of God. This is the only worthwhile life to imitate and follow. Regardless of how long a life we live, or how hard we labor; we all fail to measure up to Him. Today's parable, then, gives us reason to hope. Those who came at the last hour did receive a day's wage — even though it was unmerited and undeserved.

Compared to God, we have all come at the last hour. Compared to His labors and sacrifices, we have all done nothing. We do not suggest such ideas to lead us into idleness or laziness. This also would be a false interpretation. Those who did not labor at all received nothing at all. Only those that labored were rewarded. We must each work out our salvation in fear and trembling. God has called us to labor in His field — we have put our hands to the plow; let us not look back or at others. Some may be plowing faster, some may be going slower; some may have started earlier, some may have started later. None of this should concern us. What God asks of us, is that we do our best — that we give Him all that we have. How we measure up compared to our neighbor means nothing. If we do better than those who are weaker or have less than we have; what does that prove? We should be ashamed if we did not do better than those who have received less than we did. "To whom much has been given, much will be required."

Once again, when we compare ourselves to Jesus, we all have fallen short. God is not so much interested in the material or physical things we do or accomplish, He has no need of any of these things. What God is interested in, is our complete giving of ourselves to Him in all our labors and sacrifices. Only what is done for the love of Him has any merit or value. He demands all our love of hearts and minds. If we hold back anything from Him, we have proven to be unworthy.

Our goal is to unite all our works and prayers with the works of Jesus Christ. It is He that gives any and all the value to what we do. May we humbly approach eternity as the last and the least, completely understanding the goodness and generosity of God.

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