August 19, 2015

The Gospel Today

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 20:1-16

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.”

Reflection (Sem. Maximilian B. Estayo)

8.19

“Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”

Entering the vocation to priesthood at a late age, I consider myself as one of the men called by the Lord at “five o’clock” to work in the vineyard. But instead of being grateful, I have the tendency to believe that I am ‘highly qualified’ for the job. Having been gainfully employed prior to my entrance to the seminary, I would think that compared with much younger seminarians, I am less likely to be materialistic because I had experienced earning money and spend it the way I want.

However, the truth of the matter is that I am no better than any other seminarian, and that my ‘pride’ is really ‘envy.’ Why did God call the others early in life and will have longer years to serve the Church, while I was called late and might be in service only for a few years if I indeed make it as a priest?

Today’s Gospel reminds me of two points. One, God owns the vocation. He alone determines when and where to get men to work in His vineyard. Second, He is a generous God. It does not matter if some are called early and others at a much later time. We all receive the same ‘compensation’ for following Him.

Therefore, whether one labors in the vineyard longer, in the process bearing the “day’s burden” and the “heat,” or shorter, God is not to be questioned for His wisdom. All the laborers need to mind is their tilling or planting and leave everything else to the owner of the vineyard.
That’s why in the end, I cannot be proud and think of myself as highly qualified. No one is ever ‘qualified’ if we go by the standards of God. In my case, God called me because He had mercy on me and looked past my insufficiencies. If then I would end up a priest, I would only need to work, without looking whether the service will be long or short, but only grateful that I was called to share in the task.

 

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