The Wisdom of Generosity

In the well known parable of today’s gospel, the landowner goes out to secure laborers for the harvest. At the end of the day, all laborers are paid the same regardless of the time of day at which their labor began. Some complain that they worked from sunrise, while the ones who only began day’s end are paid the same. This has been a week of teachings on wisdom and riches…. what is today’s lesson?

When the one who have labored all day realize that they are receiving (what they were promised) exactly what the one who only worked one hour are receiving – they grumble and the problem begin.

Maybe today’s lesson is that we all need to grow in a wisdom about generosity. If the last two days gospels have stressed our need for a wisdom about riches, perhaps today’s lesson is remember that God will give us what we need when we are in relationship with Him. Some of us are just in that relationship longer. When we receive what we are promised, it is more than being satisfied, it is to have the wisdom of generosity so that you know you can give away all that you have…. because God will provide. So, why are about what the others receive? Hopefully they are giving it away too!

The sun is extraordinarily generous, giving huge parts of itself away every second. How much? Well if you remember that energy and matter are interchangeable, then every second the equivalent of 4 million elephants are being transformed into light. The sun is giving itself away. If this generosity should halt, all energy would eventually lose its source and everything would die and become inert. We, and everything on our planet, live because of the generosity of the sun.

While sun will give itself away and grow cold, no so the generosity of God. A generosity that invites us to also be generous, to have big-hearts, to risk more in giving ourselves away in self-sacrifice, as witness to God’s abundance.

But this isn’t easy. Instinctively we move more naturally to self-preservation and security. By nature we fear and we horde. Because of this, whether we are poor or not, we tend to work out of a sense of scarcity, fearing always that we don’t have enough, that there isn’t enough, and that we need to be careful in what we give away, that we can’t afford to be too generous.

But look around you. God has left us hints in nature about his waiting abundance and generosity The scope of our universe, even just in so far as we know it, is almost unimaginable. So too is the abundance and prodigal character of God. Just as the universe is expansive beyond our imaginations, even more so the nature of God.

Scripture testifies to this generous nature of God. The Sower who spread his grain on fertile and rocky soil alike. He had unlimited seed and works from a sense of abundance rather than scarcity. The Vineyard owner who gives a full day’s wage to everybody, whether he or she worked the full day or not. God, we are told, has limitless wealth and is not stingy in giving it out. God is equally generous in forgiveness. In the Father who forgives the prodigal son we see a person who can forgive out of a richness that dwarfs dignity and calculated cost to self. And we see this same largesse in Jesus himself as he forgives both those who executed him and those who abandoned him during his execution.

God is so rich in love and mercy that he can seem to be wasteful, over-generous, non-calculating, non-discriminating, incredibly risk-taking, and big-hearted beyond our imaginations. And that’s the invitation: To have a sense of God’s abundance so as to risk always a bigger heart and generosity beyond the instinctual fear that has us believe that, because things seem scarce, we need to be more calculating.

From God’s abundance we get a sun that is generous and a universe that is too huge to be imagined. That is our challenge – not just to the mind and the imagination, but also to the heart – to become generous beyond our imagination.

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