September 24, 2017: Twenty-fifth 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)
Another tough parable from Jesus! It’s so easy to make comparisons and feel sorry for myself or feel that I have been treated unfairly. I want what I feel I deserve. God, however, does not operate that way. God is about largesse, abundance and it is never wise to try and outguess what God will do or why God chooses to do it.
If I find myself making comparisons this week or feeling unjustly treated, I will substitute thoughts of God’s graciousness in my regard and think of how abundantly God cares for me. After all, I deserve nothing from God. All is gift!
This parable has always evoked another interpretation for me—late vocations, or second vocations. One occasionally hears of a man being ordained to the priesthood late in life. But recruitment ads for women’s religious communities almost always say “young women” or “18 to 40” or even 30! Might there not be many women in their 50s and 60s who are or have become single, who may have had successful careers, are financially secure, in good health, who are searching for a deeper purpose in life, who want to lead a consecrated life? Yet they are not considered potential laborers in the vineyard of religious life because of the bigotry of ageism.
Your interpretation makes a good point, Elizabeth. Certainly gave me pause. I have passed along your comment to our New Membership Team in case they do not see it as a comment on the website. Thanks so much.
Sister Ann Casper, SP