Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Justice from God's Point of View

This week Deacon Omar Guanchez has authored the reflection on the Sunday Scriptures for The Catholic Spirit. His reflection follows.


I studied four years at a seminary in my home country of Venezuela and will have completed four more years here at the St. Paul Seminary by the time I am ordained a priest.

The other day, a priest friend of mine told me that Roman seminarians do five years of seminary formation to be ordained. Only five years!

Do I find a problem when I compare my eight years of formation with their five years? Yes. Why do I have to do more years of seminary formation than others?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the same rule ap­plied to everyone?

I understand the uneasiness of the laborers in this Sunday’s Gospel. When the laborers who started work­ing in the morning saw that they received the same pay as those who started in the afternoon, they grumbled against the landowner. Wouldn’t you grumble if you found yourself in a situation like this?

Any rational human being would probably think this is not fair. But maybe this is because we link the concept of justice to proportionality rather than to generosity. More payment should go to those who work longer. More reward should be given to those who do more good, and more punishment should be given to those who do more evil.

Trust in God’s generosity

This Gospel reading presents an analogy of the kingdom of heaven that is hard for us to understand. Jesus’ comparison seems to demand too much generosity on our behalf, and the Lord’s concept of “what is just” differs from ours.

The question that the landowner asks says it all: “Are you envious because I am generous?” Yes, they were. Aren’t we as well?

The truth is that the kingdom of heaven is a free gift, not something that we can earn or deserve after so much work. Likewise, priesthood is something that I don’t earn after so many years of seminary; it is, rather, a calling, a gift that I should humbly accept and live. The length of formation, then, becomes a matter of solid preparation, not a matter of counting the years it takes to become ordained.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this Gospel speaks of the generosity of God, generosity that goes beyond our understanding. However, we should not overlook that all of the laborers called to work in the vineyard did some work — some more than others, but they all worked. This must remind us that we, too, are called to work for the kingdom of heaven with the constant trust that God will give us more than we actually deserve.

Deacon Omar Guanchez is in formation for the priesthood at the Saint Paul Seminary. He is a seminarian of the Diocese of St. Cloud and his teaching parish is St. Joseph in Waite Park.

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