There are a few stories throughout chapter 20 of Matthew, but they all share one theme: humility. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and remember that we are not perfect. We are human. We do not always know the extent of God’s plan for us, and sometimes we must recognize how small our part in that plan may be. We are all called to be saints, but we can’t all be influential speakers or directly save the lives of every person we meet who is in need. We can however, strive to reflect Christ in our every word and action and be a witness to the gospels.
The first parable in Matthew 20 is the one about the workers in the vineyard. A man asks people to work in his vineyard, and throughout the day more and more workers say yes and decide to work for him. At the end of the day, each worker receives the same pay- a full day’s wage. The workers who had worked the longest were upset, since they wanted more compensation for their effort. However, they were happy with the day’s wage and agreed to it before starting work in the vineyard. I think the sentiment of these workers still rings true today. I find myself with the mindset of the workers who worked the longest sometimes. I have been Catholic my whole life; doesn’t that entitle me to some kind of grace in addition to what converts of a year are getting? Shouldn’t my unrelenting faith be recognized?
Now let’s look at the next parable, about the mother of James and John requesting seats for her sons at the sides of Jesus. Jesus cannot give them these honored seats in heaven because they are not His to give; they have been prepared by the father, who has a plan for us our whole lives. I ask God to give me graces or virtues or strengths that are not needed in His will for me. While He would be happy to give them to me, they are not a part of God’s plan for my life. God knows I would be most fruitful strengthening the virtues He knows I will need. But having been Catholic for so long, shouldn’t I know what graces I need to carry out God’s will?
If you hadn’t noticed, the questions I asked at the end of those two parables aren’t very humble. I assume that I know exactly what God is planning for me, and that I will be best at determining what I need to get there and what I deserve for it. But ultimately, God is the judge of all those things. God’s will can always make me happier than my own. Will it always be easier or more rewarding than my own on earth? Probably not. Actually, if we embrace God’s will fully, and place all the trust we can in Him, then it will probably get even harder. This is because the Lord gives us a burden we can carry, and if we trust in Him, then we can always continue carrying more. I think that this Lent, we are called to be humble. We recognize our weaknesses and lapses in faith. But then, we are asked to remedy these weaknesses. We apologize to our Lord and to try to not sin again, as Jesus tells the people he heals throughout scripture. It doesn’t matter whether our sin is as grave as murder or as venial as telling a white lie- we can be forgiven. God is a merciful and loving God, even when we refuse to recognize our own weaknesses. But let us, this Lent, contemplate where we have presumed too much or written off our faults, and try to grow in holiness rather than repeat those same mistakes. Let us go out and show our joy in Christ and zeal for our faith and be the example of living a Christian life that we always want to see.
Emily Shoemaker ’21 is a freshman living in Holworthy.