25th Sunday In Ordinary Time
In this weekend’s gospel story we hear about the Labourers in the vineyard. As unskilled workers, they lived day to day at a subsistence level, just above the homeless and destitute. In areas where such workers can got employment, they got together in a common area known to employers. (In the time of Jesus, the marketplace acted as their gathering area). The employers sought the workers out, hired them only for the day, and paid them the same night . Day laborers in the vineyard objected to the amount of pay the owner gave them as the first was paid exactly the same as the last one denarius. This tense image rode against the popular view of the Kingdom as a peaceful feast of the faithful in paradise. Jesus told this story to emphasize how the Kingdom differed from people’s ideas and expectations what people expected and the actual kingdom of God were two very different things. According to Jesus, the faithful, even those who practiced faith all life long, did not earn the Kingdom. The Father gave his children the Kingdom as a gift. The pay issue scandalized Jesus’ followers the most, however. Imagine the most dedicated and hard working were paid the same as the others. And they were paid last! Beyond the question of money lie the question of social treatment. The owner treated those who worked for only an hour as he would treat his own family. Those hired at dawn were treated as mere workers. The owner gave greater honor to those who worked the least by paying them well and paying them first. The owner belittled those who worked all day long by paying them so little and paying them last. And, when the workers grumbled, the owner rebuked them in public. No wonder they gave him the “evil eye.” [20:11-15]
If our ways of thinking and judging are truly far from the Lord’s way, then we have some adjusting to do! Perhaps we need to work harder in the areas of forgiveness, mercy, and generosity, to mention a few To think as God thinks requires openness and a broad vision, free of self-pity and selfish brooding. It takes a habit of gratitude. It means sitting down and reflecting, “What does God want me to do in this or that situation?” It takes courage and humility and grace to act this way. It helps if we just ask ourselves a simple question: What would Jesus do we will act in the right way.
The parable of the workers in the vineyard is the Lord’s call to all of us who have received Him in word and sacrament to share generously with all people what we have received and that means sharing our resources and our time. All of us share equally in the task, whether called early in the morning or late in the evening of the day, we are called to build up the kingdom of God in this unjust and often times hard world. When we focus upon the needs of others, even if they encroach upon our rights, we give ourselves for the Kingdom. Our work becomes more honest and our leadership will then lead others to Christ. Ultimately, service means sacrifice. What are we willing to give up for the Kingdom of God as we proclaim the good news in word and deed?