Mt 20: 1-16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.

And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’

When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

 

Our Most Generous Author

I once heard that the great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, intended his famous novel, Anna Karenina, to be a denunciation of adultery and his heroine’s sinful behavior. But as he worked on his book over time, he couldn’t resist writing about Anna Karenina sympathetically. I know I’ve felt my own sympathy deepen when I take time to get to know people better.

Our feelings almost always change when we begin to understand each other. What if we put a face to each laborer in today’s Gospel? Guess at their different stories? Give each person a name? Imagine dialogue: “Why are you standing around so late in the day?” “Because I was busy in the morning taking care of an invalid parent.” God knows every messy detail of the story of our lives. He gets the full picture. He is our one Great Understander-er. He is also our Most Generous Author, with thoughts and ways not like our own. And God deals with us according to his nature, not ours; which is to say, with unimaginable mercy and kindness.

Learning to see as God sees is no easy task! Giving others a break can be tough. But we can pray for a more faith-filled vision and understanding. God is eager to meet us in prayer!

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently in his second year of Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

 

Prayer

Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see Your face
Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see

Open my ears, Lord
Help me to hear Your voice
Open my ears, Lord
Help me to hear

Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love like You
Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love

Lyrics to “Open My Eyes” by Jesse Manibusan, ©1988