August 21, 2013

The Gospel Today 

Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope

Mt. 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. Enrico Terrel):

     Voltaire once said, “Work keeps us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.” This quotation stressed the evils that idleness brings and the importance of work. The goodness of work is rooted in the truth that God did not create us to be idle human beings.

     The Gospel narrative speaks of a hardworking God in the image of a landowner who went out to call and hire laborers for his vineyard. It is also good to notice that the landowner went out to look for laborers during the dawn, in the middle of the morning, noontime, in the middle of the afternoon and at five o’clock in the afternoon. The often observable thing in this parable is the equal payment that everyone received regardless of the number of working hours they rendered. Using conventional wisdom, it is easy to say that the last batch of workers are so lucky for receiving the same pay for the less time of work they have given whereas the first batch of workers are so unfortunate for working for so long only to receive the same pay with those of the last batch. Moreover, it seems that the landowner is not fully aware of what he is doing. What truth can we derive from this? What God really offers to us is salvation and the opportunity to share in His divine life. Through the Death and Resurrection of Christ, salvation is already waiting for us. Nevertheless, we also need to participate in the mission towards it by living a life of love and good works. Some were called to mission early in their life like Samuel and St. John the Baptist. Some were called during the later stages of their life like St. Peter and St. Paul. The timing of our calling does not really matter. What matters is we have a God who will never grow tired of calling us to participate in His mission. He calls us because He trusts us and believes in our capability to respond in love. But He is not forcing us to accept His mission and plan for us. He respects our freedom. Are we willing to accept His offer or are we just too idle to give any attention to it?

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