Posted by Rev. Jon Dunbar

Readings for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 20:1-16; Philippians 1:12-14,19-30; Isaiah 55:6-9

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Whether you’re a child who got shorted at snack time, or you’re an adult who’s yelling at the referee over a bad call, all of us have a native sense of fairness that’s hardwired into us. And when that sense of fairness gets violated? Then look out!

But what happens when the one acting unfairly is Jesus? The parable of the vineyard tells of a Master who values generosity over fairness. No one can accuse him of going back on his word. But neither does it bother him to give undeserved rewards to those who haven’t earned them. The problem is that while it doesn’t bother God, it DOES bother us! “Do you begrudge my generosity?” the Master asks. We thank God for the undeserved favor He shows us. Can we thank Him also when He shows undeserved favor to others? (Matt 20)

The Old Testament lesson points us to the urgency of repentance and faith in this moment and not sometime down the road. The LORD has told us where and when we can find Him. He is eager to answer our cries of repentance with the promise of full pardon. (Is 55)

The apostle Paul rejoices at the effect that his own imprisonment has had on his fellow Christians in the early Church. Paul’s persecution has only increased the Church’s boldness in living and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May it do so also among us! (Phil 1)