The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
HERE WAS A TIME in my life when I felt a bit uncomfortable with today’s Gospel parable. Quite bluntly, I didn’t think it was fair that these workers all received the same. But I didn’t feel comfortable in criticizing Jesus either. I’ve heard explanations, and I’ve given explanations. Recently this thought struck me. Maybe Our Blessed Lord was trying to teach us that: Life is not fair. Now, I don’t know whether all of you will agree with me when I say that life is not fair, but I would imagine older people would agree. At times some bad things happen even to good people, which they don’t deserve. And sometimes nothing can be done about it. Now I am not saying that this should happen. I’m just saying that it can and does happen.
When and where: Unfair things can happen even in the Church, even in religious life. Perhaps some of them are a matter of personal judgment, but I saw them happen along the way in my seminary years. And you should have been alive right after Vatican II, when they were ripping the shreds out of religious life!
What do you do? In answer to the question, “what do you do?”—a lot will depend on circumstances. When I was in the seminary, my goal was to become a Franciscan priest, mainly to be able to offer Mass and be a missionary to bring the Catholic faith to those who did not yet have it. When things happened that I didn’t like, I either had to accept them or leave. They were not going to change.
Connection with the Epistle: And that is what ties in with today’s Gospel. This is the theme of what St. Paul is saying in today’s Epistle selection. There he talks about all the training and hard work that athletes go through to be able to win a race or other contest. I can assure you a football team spends more time in practicing and in keeping in shape than it does on the playing field. I remember when I was first teaching at Roger Bacon and they had a winning football team under the coach Bron Bacevich. During the football season, if it would be raining outside after school, he would make the team work out inside the school by running down the corridors and up and down the stairs for long periods of times to keep in shape. You could hear them huffing and puffing—just to win a game—something like an earthly crown.
Eternal life: Now how many people would endure that kind of pain and endurance to make up for their sins or the sins of others? Well, Jesus gives us a chance to do so when he lets something unfair happen to us. Or if we seem always to have that bad luck.
Conclusion: I would say especially to the younger people: You don’t have to look for bad luck or misfortunes in your life. They will probably find you. But don’t let them get you down, especially when you feel you have been treated unjustly or unfairly. In all probability, you were. Get some good out of it by enduring it patiently. Learn to laugh about it; that way, you’ll gain doubly. You will get more merit for heaven, and you might find something to laugh about. And you will be the better for it. Don’t get mad, be glad! +
“The sorrows of death have assailed me, the pains of hell have encompassed me…”