crazy talk grace – Matthew 20:1-16

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Gospels / Lectionary / New Testament
Zoe at Jamestown

My daughter Zoe several years ago sitting on an ancient wall at Jamestown, Virginia.

The following is a reflection on Matthew 20:1-16, the Gospel lesson appointed for September 18th, 2011 according to the New Revised Common Lectionary. (Proper 19, Year A) On this site there is also
• a reflection on the Epistle lesson for the same day, and
• a version of the Prayers of the People, based on the lessons of the day.

Jesus asks, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

The honest, human, answer to the first question, is, of course: Well, yes. We suppose. But, please don’t do anything too rash…

And to the second question: Yes. Uncategorically.

We Christians, love grace and mercy. As long as it is directed towards us, towards the people we approve of, and as long as it’s not so lavish as to be embarrassing to us.

Of all the things that God must wryly smile at, this must be at the top of the pile.

Having two daughters who are 4 and 7, my wife and I end up doing a lot of refereeing. Now, they are very good girls to be sure—but they do have a keen, fully developed, and uncompromising sense of fairness built into themselves and their relationship with each other.

For example, they keep an internal count of how many play dates they have in comparison with their sibling. When they perceive the slightest tip of the balance out of their favor, alarm bells go off.

It’s unfair!

The same goes for ice cream treats, trips to the City, and trinkets and toys. There is a finely tuned scale embedded into their consciousness that is ready to cry out the moment there is the hint of one receiving more favor than the other.

Sometimes this is incredibly annoying and irritating. Sometimes I lash out. (Are you kidding me? You’ve had ice cream everyday for a week now!!)

But, sometimes, when I have my wits about me, I just give a wry smile.

If they only knew that I would do anything in my power to show them my unconditional love for them—each of them…

In a way, I imagine God doing the very same thing. God has given us so much. And grace rains lavishly down on each of us.

a privileged faith

Click on the image above to read "a privileged faith," a reflection on the Epistle lesson for September 18.

God does have favorites

But, the trick is that we’re each His very favorite.

And so when God pours out his love and favor towards someone else, we need not worry. If we’d just take the time to look, we’d see that God has filled our cup to the brim too.

In fact, it’s overflowing.

And, when God’s favor is extended towards those of whom we disapprove—well, it’s time to grow up, and begin looking at the world the way that God looks at the world.

What MUST it be like to look around at the whole wide world and see nothing but your children, who are the apple of your eye, and for whom you’d give everything and anything…even the life of your Son?

I don’t know. I have no idea what that’s like.

But, God must smile. A lot.

Even wryly sometimes.

The Author

follower of Jesus, father of two, husband of one, Episcopal priest, with one book down, one blog up...surrounded by empty jars of nutella


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