September 21, 2014: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off.
And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
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.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, 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.’
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? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:1-16A)
Talk about changes! Today’s gospel is almost everyone’s most unfavorite. We are given a hint about this in the first reading where we hear God say, “my ways are not your ways.”
It just isn’t fair! That’s what we want to say about the laborer who at the end of the day receives as much is the one who has worked all day under the broiling sun of Israel.
And here’s the word of God to all of us who complain: “Life isn’t fair.”: “What if I wish to give this latecomer the same as you? Am I not free to do so? Are you envious because I am generous?”
There are days, when we are really honest with ourselves, when we would be very grateful that God was generous with mercy.
In fact, if we look around at the natural world: the number of leaves on a tree, the number of seed pods on any flower, even the number of sperm that had a chance of fertilizing one human egg to make you. Wherever God’s handiwork is, there is abundance, amazing Grace, overwhelming MERCY.
As the season changes, take a moment and look at some natural tree, shrub or flower. Find the seeds of next year’s spring. You might have to ask a teacher or parent or some older friend to show you where the seeds are.
The seeds are signs of abundance so many more seeds than could ever grow up to be another tree, shrub or flower.
Thank God for God’s generosity to the birds and squirrels and us.