20 August 2008 Wednesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 20, 1-16 Love Without Rewards
The Gospel is in contrast with our notion of justice. Salaries are paid to according to the labor rendered, and the time we spent at work. In the parable, the vineyard owner hires laborers--- idle men chosen from the marketplace--- at different hours and times of the day and gives the same full salary to all. In the same way, God rewards the Kingdom of Heaven to all, even to latecomers.
In faith life, there are latecomers. They may be baptized Catholics, but have been nominal for a long period of time in their lives. Some have stopped coming to mass, or prayed occasionally. This has been one of the reflection I have in UP. There are those who have declared that they stopped believing in God, or who didn’t believe in God altogether in their younger days, and when they had finally come to reconcile with God, they were a few months before their death. I have known several personalities who have requested for confession or masses in their deathbed.
If you are one of those who have been an early bird in faith, will you feel bad that God would give the same reward to that person who have rejected him, but returned in the nick of time? If you have been very faithful in fulfilling your duties as a Christian, coming to mass regularly, never doubted God, would you feel bad that you get the same reward as the one who lived a carefree life devoid of religious duties but nevertheless came back to the faith in their old age? Would you even consider, if this is the case, to come in late anyways we get the same remuneration?
To someone who genuinely loves, we love not for the reward, like friends with benefits. The lover does not expect a reward for every good thing that one does from the beloved. We don’t keep a list of our good deeds in order to expect a better payment. Ang tunay na pagmamahal ay hindi nagbibilang at naghahanap ng kapalit.
The reward is itself the beloved. Serving the beloved is pleasurable enough. The beloved is the reward. The same way with God. It is not so much what we do that pleases Him, it is our being with Him. So when a latecomer comes and chooses to be with Him, then it makes God happy. I think of my mom: she’s happy enough to be with us and her grandchildren. It is never too late to change.
We often forget that there is a higher value than justice: it is love. In love, we don’t even think of rewards: when we do, it breaks the very definition of love. Rewards are about ourselves; love is about others. What we do in love is from the generosity of our hearts. That is why generosity is said to be magnanimous. Generous people have big hearts.