In a short exchange, Jesus shows His mastery in drawing people into His teaching before allowing them to give the lesson. First, He asks their opinion—He is giving them, and us, the opportunity to judge. Who of us could not refuse this invitation? We are drawn in immediately. Then, He presents the facts of the case to be judged. A very simple case with an obvious answer, which He could have declared Himself, from the beginning but, instead, gives us the lesson with our own judgment. Finally, He turns our very judgment on us, teaching us that we are like the second son who says, “Yes,” but proceeds to deny his own affirmation and do otherwise. Ezekiel was right. “The Lord’s way is not fair!”
It’s a judgment we often make over the landscape of our lives and the lives of others. We use worldly criteria. We compare our lives to others and their lives to ours, then pass judgment while attributing all “unfairness” to God.
It’s part of our human condition. Unless we focus on God and His Will the only criteria we have left with which to pass judgment are the criteria of this world. I’m not as rich as him/her because (fill in the blank). I’m not as strong and athletic as him/her because __________. I’m not as happy as him/her because _______. I wish I were as smart, ingenious, pretty, handsome, short, tall, wise, clever, trusting, holy, etc. as him/her so that I could ________. We could go on and on with many more such examples and still never find answers to God’s “unfairness.” Then, if I really want to drive myself to the loony bin I could consider how people look at me and judge me. Do I dare ask my friends, “What is your opinion?”
Jesus declared Himself to be the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of the circle of life. Everything in my world begins and ends with my relationship with Jesus. That is the point—the final judgment—of today’s Gospel.
How many times have we looked at others and judged him/her proclaiming, “He/She just doesn’t get it!” I wonder how often Jesus looks at me and sobs those same words.
Remember your mercies, O Lord!