I’ve talked about this sort of thing before. There are some stories in the Bible where I’m not sure where I fit nor what I think about the story. The story of Jonah, especially the second half, is one of these stories and the Parable of the Landowner is another one; the Lectionary gives us both of them this Sunday.
It is difficult not to sympathize with Jonah in his aggravation with the continued existence of the city of Nineveh. He had been sent to warn the Ninevites to repent before they were destroyed, he didn’t seem to think he was sent to warn them and they would repent and not be destroyed. The people of Nineveh had oppressed and killed many of Jonah’s people and many, many more other people. In the current parlance, the Ninevites were objectively bad and the world would be better without them, and then God changed his mind. How is that fair?
The landowner in Jesus’ parable is even more aggravating to us. People are hired throughout the day to work in this vineyard and at the end of the day, no doubt a back-breaking day of work, everyone is paid the same amount! How is that fair?
There are certainly times when asking if something is fair or not is appropriate but it isn’t always. It is often not the question to ask at all because fair and generous, fair and compassionate, don’t always go together. An insistence on “fairness” often doesn’t leave room for grace.
The baptism referenced in the sermons was for a set of twins, which might make some things I say make a bit more sense. As always, let me know what you think.