"When the first group appeared they supposed they would get more." -Matthew 20:10

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, the Master pays the last group first (Mt 20:8). His purpose in paying them first, as it is so often, is to teach the earliest group, His long-time disciples, more about His mercy. Their responses showed that, although they worked obediently and sacrificially for the Master, they still hadn't grasped and embraced the depth and richness of the Master's mercy. They failed the mercy quiz. They were watching the Master's money rather than the Master's mercy. "Thereupon they complained" rather than rejoiced (Mt 20:11).
Here's another mercy quiz:

   * You struggle unsuccessfully for years to bring Eucharistic adoration to your parish. Then a new convert, a former criminal, succeeds. Do you rejoice in this success or inwardly complain since he gets the credit?

   * You are a faithful pastor who prayed, fasted, and preached in an effort to persuade your parishioners to attend regular Confession. A young priest succeeds you and in a few months has long Confession lines. Rejoice or complain?

   * Your husband divorces you and leaves you with four young children. You sacrifice for decades to bring them up in the faith. He comes back into their lives when they are grown. When your faithful adult children praise and thank their father, what do you do? Rejoice or complain?

What difficult circumstance is the Lord using to teach you mercy? We modern disciples can also miss the lesson and fail the mercy quiz. Fix your eyes on the mercy of Jesus.

 Father, may I be like You: "rich in mercy" (Eph 2:4).

 "Thus says the Lord God: I Myself will look after and tend My sheep." -Ez 34:11

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