Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 20,1-16a.
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, he 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, he 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.”
The laborers in God’s work.
- First, let’s talk about the early morning workers. These refer to the people who take work and life seriously. Sometimes they can be too demanding on themselves and others. They are usually the perfectionist that is dissatisfied and unhappy because there is ‘something missing.’ Be careful. You don’t want to end up being obsessed with work or cleaning and thereby neglecting life itself; for example, instead of spending time with friends and family, you come home and start cleaning and making sure everything is in its place. Perhaps you are a perfectionist at work – over meticulous. Be careful with that as well! No one will say you are irresponsible, but they might think and say, “How annoying they are!” Let me remind you that if you’re involved in God’s work, you work for God, and those with you work for God as well – not for you. Your ‘co-workers’ in Christian life are your brothers and sisters, not your employees.
- Second, let’s talk about those hired in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. These refer to those who find God at a certain point in their lives – in their adolescence, their youth, or even as adults – and they set out to work after having experienced a time when they didn’t have God in their lives. They could have been drug or alcohol abusers or people who simply lived without God. Unlike the perfectionist from the first point, these people seem to want to rush life. They could be the person who has found the Lord at a recent retreat and has experienced a sudden change because they has found their way, but then demands that everyone around them should undergo that change as well. They had a conversion experience at a retreat and once at home, they demand that the family say grace before meals, pray the Rosary together and go to Church every Sunday; be careful, just because you have found Jesus, doesn’t mean you can impose Him on others. Instead, help others find Jesus through your example. Your deeds are worth more than words.
- Finally, let’s talk about the the last ones who were hired and the payment given to all of them. The last ones are those who have found God at a difficult moment in their lives and because of that become involved in God’s work. I remember a man who had lived a very complicated life. He was seriously ill in the intensive care unit. His family asked me to visit him and bless him. When I had blessed him, he asked me in a hardly audible way, to hear his confession. When I realized he couldn’t speak I said to him, “Repeat after me. Father forgive me, because I have sinned.” He nodded and I said, “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” A moment later, he died. There are people that find God in the last moments of their lives, and this encounter marks a complete change. Even then, God shows us our great gain: Jesus. At the end of today’s reading, we see that they all get the same wage. This made the workers jealous. Even today, among those who are trying to do the work of God there is jealousy. Those of us who are involved in God’s work can want to have an advantage over others thinking that the ‘holier’ you are the better you are. How many times do we grumble to God for positions saying things like “look who is a Eucharist minister now! I should have that position because I am better than they are…” Let’s stop making excuses and comparing ourselves to others. Instead, let’s work for the Kingdom of God and save souls. Let’s not look at the pay slip of others. Our goal doesn’t have to do with gaining positions or posts, our goal is to go to heaven. Don’t forget: Heaven is Our Goal!
God bless you in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.