For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:15-16
My first and immediate response whenever I read and hear this passage is a sigh of relief. Procrastinators still have hope!!
In all seriousness, I was once told by a "cradle Catholic" as I was trying to learn the intricacies of the faith and the reason behind its teachings that really, I'd never actually be Catholic since I wasn't born into it.
Bite your tongue. I surely did. Let's not even get into that whole go to all the nations, preach the Gospel, and baptize everyone business.
While that is an extreme example, I do think that we all risk being lured into a trap of spiritual superiority. I notice it in myself at Mass. Someone STILL doesn't know the new responses. Look who's waking in right before the Gospel.
Here's the kicker. Jesus came to offer the gift of salvation to all of us, whether we've been following from the beginning or whether we are walking in at the 2 minute warning or sneaking onto the field at the final buzzer. So that person who just doesn't get it? If they're still drawing breath, they've got time, and we'd better be in the business of helping them instead of pointing fingers.
Sure, it doesn't seem fair some days. We struggle to stay faithful for all our days and someone had a deathbed epiphany of repentance and they're offered the exact same mercy and grace as the rest of us.
That's just what we hear in Isaiah. We aren't supposed to get it. His ways are not our ways. Instead of trying to understand His boundless and timeless mercy while our eyes are still veiled in a fallen world, we do better to trust that He treats us all with equal mercy, even when we stumble in our foolishness. Instead of comparing our piety and worth with those around us, we do better to simply get to work in the business of the Kingdom so when He comes to pay us, we are there, and not at the water cooler rolling our eyes. (Do they even have water coolers anymore?)
So let's get to work this week, and remember, if we are a bit sluggish or late to the game, Jesus is still there waiting with the fullness of His mercy, His love, and His grace.