Jesus Never Tires of Looking for You, Me, Us; No One is Excluded
By Father John Slampak, STL

Jim Love tells the story of a young guest minister who preached at a church several times, and each time he was greeted by a frail man who asked the young preacher, “How you carrying it today, pastor?”

Not knowing what on earth the man meant by this, he simply answered: “Fine ... it’s fine.”

Eventually, though, curiosity got the better of the preacher. One day he quietly asked the man’s wife what this strange greeting might mean.

“Oh,” she said, “he’s wondering how you are carrying the cross ... he wonders how heavy your burden is today.”

And by that cross, he doesn’t mean the problems that come along with our own life on this earth. He doesn’t mean the problems of parenting ... or the troubles with arthritis ... as difficult as these may be. These are not “the crosses we have to bear.” They are simply our responsibilities, our struggles during our life on this earth.

When he asks, “How you carrying it today?” he means the cross we choose to bear. He means someone else’s burden that we offer to share. He means laying down our own problems in order to pick up someone else’s pain. Everyone has burdens like these. There is nothing particularly “Christian” about them.

Every day God is looking for you to see how you are doing, as St. Paul writes, at conducting yourself in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ, although some might think God is only looking to catch you.

In one parable, the owner of the vineyard comes out five times looking for people to work, and he is generous to all the people who needed work. Everyone received what was agreed upon, and so there was no unfairness.

Those who worked first had no complaint about the justice of the wages; they were grateful to work. It was only when they compared their wages with those of the others that they got upset. (An early biblical form of entitlement). It is a human trait that we do not complain about the benefits given to ourselves or even those given to others, as long as we end up getting more than others.

That is true in any area of life. And so this parable cautions us about envy in all its forms; but the caution about envy is not the main purpose of the parable. The story is about the landowner’s generosity; the landowner went looking.

It is about the generosity of God to each person under God’s care. God wants to make sure that every single person is given absolutely whatever they need to be saved, however late they come to work with God.

You can’t be jealous of God’s generosity. If you have a problem with God’s generosity, it comes from unkind thoughts about others. (If you knew what he or she is really like you wouldn’t be so generous.) (Generosity becomes problematic when someone else is involved.)

Sometimes we have to say, “Thy will be done.” As a matter of fact it is to His will that we are both invited and helped, all the way there. No matter how long it takes, let the rich grace of the kingdom soak into your heart, and mind.