9/24/2023 (Sunday) Today’s gospel reading: Matthew 20:1-16A
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
2 After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’
5 So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
6 Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
7 They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
8 When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
9 When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage.
10 So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage.
11 And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner,
12 saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
13 He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
14 Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
15 Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’
16A Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
9/24/2023 (Sunday) Today’s gospel reflection: Matthew 20:1-16A
We have heard not a few times that this world we live in is not fair. For some people, the gospel reading above exemplifies and amplifies their concept of unfairness. Why should one person who works for eight hours receives the same salary with the one who works for just one hour granting that both of them did the same kind of work? The first worker has the right to complain, doesn’t he?
Yet by reading the gospel above carefully, we see that Jesus is teaching us about the generosity of God and our tendency to complain a lot and to be jealous. He is telling us to be contented with His provisions and to stop comparing ourselves with our neighbors. In other words, there is very little connection between modern theories of justice especially workers’ rights and the gospel reading above.
Make no mistake. The God we believe in is just but at the same time merciful. He is fair to all His children and yet He is so merciful that many times, people perceive Him to be unfair. Is He really unfair when He forgives our grievous sins even without punishing us? On the other hand, is there justice when we punish people including children for every misdemeanor? One thing is sure. Human thoughts are different from God’s thought. This fact is manifested in our concept of justice that is devoid of mercy and compassion. God loves each one of us and His love is not dependent on how long we work hard. He loves us without counting the cost. He wants us to serve Him without counting the hours! In His Kingdom, it is not how long we work but how much we love that matters!
For sure we all want fairness in the world we live in. Yet many of us desire special privileges even to the point of being unfair. Many of us want to get more for less – meaning getting higher salary for less hours of work. Some even desire to eat cakes without paying for them. Obviously, we oftentimes think more of our own benefits and less of the benefits for others. We often wonder if God is really fair yet we do not recognize our own unfairness especially to others.