Jesus said to his disciples, «This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the workers a salary of a silver coin for the day, and sent them to his vineyard. He went out again at about nine in the morning, and seeing others idle in the square, he said to them: ‘You, too, go to my vineyard and I will pay you what is just’. So they went. The owner went out at midday and again at three in the afternoon, and he did the same. Finally he went out at the last working hour —it was the eleventh— and he saw others standing there. So he said to them: ‘Why do you stay idle the whole day?’ They answered: ‘Because no one has hired us’. The master said: ‘Go and work in my vineyard’.
»When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager: ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first’. Those who had come to work at the eleventh hour turned up and were given a denarius each (a silver coin). When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received a denarius each. So, on receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner. They said: ‘These last hardly worked an hour, yet you have treated them the same as us who have endured the day’s burden and heat’. The owner said to one of them: ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on a denarius a day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Don't I have the right to do as I please with my money? Why are you envious when I am kind?’. So will it be: the last will be first, the first will be last».
These are my questions that can help you to contemplate and apply this Gospel in your daily life;
- The Master went out to meet those workers who are always looking for a solution, without losing hope, persevering in their struggle against their misery. Can you be counted among those workers who remain faithful?
- God makes a covenant, a covenant filled with generosity and goodness. I deeply believe that He continues it today with you and with me. What is this covenant that you agreed with Him? Can you specify it for our understanding? Are you still faithful to this covenant?
- In your opinion, is God really unfair to you? What are your reasons, which are humanly understandable and which you can justify your recrimination? Do you have one?
- It is interesting for me to see the Master again, coming towards me, giving his explanations and reasoning. We have already seen this in the parable of the prodigal son where the Father will come out of his party to meet his first-born son. He gives us this hope and He will return to us. So we can always be converted.
- I invite you to listen to this Master and discern yourself, here now. Do you want to continue being bad or would you like to participate in the goodness of your Master?
Action of the day: Be grateful.
«The last will be first, the first will be last»
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, God's Word invites us to realize that divine “logic” goes beyond merely human logic. While we, men, calculate («they thought they would receive more»: Mt 20:10), God —who is a dear Father too—, simply loves («Why are you envious when I am kind?»: Mt 20:15). And the measure of love is to have no measure: «I love because I love, I love to love» (St. Bernard).
However, this does not mean justice is pointless: «I will pay you what is just» (Mt 20:4). God is not arbitrary and He wants to treat us as intelligent sons: it is, therefore, logic He makes “deals” with us. In fact, some other times, the Lord's teachings clearly state that who has received more will also be demanded more (let us remember the Parable of the Talents). In short, God is just, but charity does not conflict with justice; it rather goes beyond (cf. 1Cor 13:5).
A popular saying asserts that «justice per se is the worst injustice». Luckily for us, God's justice —let us repeat it again— exceeds our schemes. If it would be a matter of mere and strict justice, we would still be pending of redemption. What is even more, we would not have any hope of redemption. In strict justice, we should not deserve any redemption: we would simply remain disowned of what we were given in the moment of Creation and we rejected with the original sin. So, when we have to deal with others let us examine ourselves, to find out how are we doing regarding judgments, comparisons and estimations.
Furthermore, if we are talking about saintliness, we have to start from the basis that all is grace. The most evident sample is the case of Dimas, the good thief. Not only, the possibility of being deserving before God is also a grace (something that is freely given to us). God is the master, our «landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard» (Mt 20:1). The vineyard (that is, life, heaven...) is his; we are just invited there and not just in any way: it is a privilege to be able to work there and be eventually “rewarded” with heaven.