25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)


25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) Mt. 20: 1-16 - Sep 24, 2017

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord“.

In our society we usually discuss that there should be equal opportunities in jobs, for example, for men and women, who do, the same work, and both have the same qualifications; and the concern is that they should receive the same salary. In the parable we hear today, about the landowner who paid all workers the same wage, although they had not worked the same amount of time, we might think that he is either unjust or too generous. In this very unexpected situation, the first thing we have to think is that the owner was not unjust, since from the beginning, owner and workers agreed to accept the standard daily basic wage. And yet this parable exclusive of Matthew may be, among the forty parables of Jesus, one of the most puzzled.

Early in the morning, from six o´clock and throughout the day, the landowner hires workers for his vineyard. They reach an agreement about the usual wage; and the workers are happy to luckily find a job and go out into the vineyard to do the work. Around five o'clock, just one hour before the end of the workday, the owner hires the last group of workers. They are all surprise he gives the last ones hired a full-day's wage. Those hired first think they will receive more, and complained when they are paid the agreed wage. The owner of the vineyard responds: "Are you envious because I am generous?"

When we try to get involved ourselves in this parable, as we should do with all of Our Lord´s teachings, we cannot be too arrogant or conceited to think we are part of the first group who has worked so long and hard. We should be honest enough to accept that even God has called us for a long time we have failed to respond and work hard many times. If this is true, we should have no complain like the first group hired in the parable.

Our legal labor system is so calculated, that we make sure we do not pay less or more than is required by legal human standards. But that is not the case with God. God is unlimited in his generosity. We read in the Gospel that in many of his actions and parables, Jesus is a perfect example of God´s generosity. He makes too much wine at the Cana wedding; too much bread at the multiplication of the bread for the hungry crowd; he forgives the many sins of a public sinner woman, and tells of the father who throws a big party for his prodigal son; he tells a story about forgiving a debt far too large ever to be paid; and he tells us to forgive, not only seven times but seventy times seven. And the best news of all, he gives up his life for our sins on the cross.

We could picture ourselves in the envy of the workers for the vineyard owner´s generosity. We humans have the tendency to think of God´s actions according to our own parameters of thinking. About this, the prophet Isaiah warns us today: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts."

The key issue of our parable today is not exactly social justice, but generosity, God´s generosity. The last group of workers to go into the vineyard represents all of us, to show that God is fair and generous to every human being. God offers each of us his grace, and that means a free gift: life, family, friends, our faith, and so many talents we have received from him.

During our Eucharist we celebrate the generosity manifested by God. Before receiving Holy Communion we pray, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you”. But to receive Jesus in Holy Communion is not a matter of worthiness, it articulates God´s generosity.

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