The Duke, the Cowboy, the Playwright, and the President

What do John Wayne, Oscar Wilde, Buffalo Bill, and (possibly) George Washington have in common? They all became Catholic on their deathbeds.

Conversions such as these should cause rejoicing! But that’s not always the case. News that a notorious gangster became Catholic as he died was met with howls or protest by those who thought it unfair that such a person might receive God’s mercy. Much like those in today’s gospel who grumbled when the latecoming workers received the same pay as those who’d worked all day.

From the world’s perspective, the conclusion of Jesus’ parable isn’t fair. After all, longer work should lead to greater pay! But Jesus was speaking of the kingdom of heaven, where different rules apply.

On the job, we can earn a paycheck, and even a bonus. But there’s nothing we can do to earn our way into God’s kingdom. We’re welcomed in, not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done. Heaven isn’t a reward for good behavior, it’s a gift from God. There’s no admissions fee, as Jesus already paid the price for us.

Yes, we are accountable for our actions before God, who calls us to lead holy lives. But Jesus’ parable reminds us that those passing through the pearly gates won’t hear, “Congratulations! You’ve earned it!” Jesus will say instead: “Welcome! I love you.”

Readings for today’s Mass:

Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

5 Replies to “The Duke, the Cowboy, the Playwright, and the President”

  1. “From the world’s perspective, the conclusion of Jesus’ parable isn’t fair.”
    The entire post seems to illustrate of Psalm 103 so beautifully, especially verses 10&11;

    “10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offences.
    11 As the height of heaven above earth, so strong is His faithful love for those who fear Him.”

  2. I love conversion stories and I care not if they are at the last moment–it just shows God’s great mercy and generosity– and that someone was praying for the salvation of someone they loved. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do??

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