• 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time A

    Posted on September 23, 2017 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels

        The grumbling of those who have worked all day is similar to the

    grumbling of the elder Brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Like

    the Prodigal Son we never know what they did in response to the owner’s



        Act I: hirings.

        At the outset there is a surprising note.  The householder (and not

    his steward) goes out from “early in the morning” until the eleventh hour

    to assemble the workers.  The hearers are given a hint that their normal

    view of the world is to be challenged.  Different wage agreements: first

    group: normal days’s wage; hired in the third hour: whatever is right;

    hired in the sixth and ninth hour: presumably “whatever is right”;

    eleventh hour: no mention of payment. 


        Act II: payments_

        the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman

        Normally those who had worked l2 hours would be the first to be

    paid.  If that had happened, they would have left happy.  But the

    reversal,inversion, in the order of pay lets those who had worked all day

    find out what the others have received.  As we stand with the workers

    and watch the payment, when those who are hired last receive a denarius,

    we begin to have the same feelings as those hired first they thought that they would receive more


        Act III Dialogue between the owner and the grumbling workers:

        l)I am not cheating you. 

        2) Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? 

        3) I question your attitude. Are you envious because I am generous?’


        The complaint of the dissatisfied workers is, strictly speaking, you

    have made them equal to us.  They are defining their personal worth in

    contrast to others;  they are not so much angered by what happened to

    them as envious of the good fortune of the other workers.  They are so

    enclosed in their understanding of justice that it becomes a norm by

    which they become judges of others.  They want to order the world by

    their norms which limit the master’s freedom and exclude unexpected


        The line between following God’s will and deciding what God wills is

    always thin and fragile. 


        The grumblers claim that making one hour equal to those who have

    worked all day is unfair.  The first group of workers have at the end of

    the story exactly what they had contracted for in the beginning.  They

    would have been satisfied with that if it had not been for the treatment

    given the group that only worked one hour.

        Notice that they are never denied their reward, just their

    complaint.  Whatever they lose, they lose in their own feelings of

    hostility and resentment.


        We human beings are curious.  When we look at someone who is the

    beneficiary of some generosity we want a strict system of justice.  But

    if we are the beneficiary of some generosity we wonder at those who have

    complaints.  They are just jealous.


        For who among us does not yearn to find a welcome, a helping hand,

    an unexpected privilege, even when we do not deserve it.


        Jesus showed us that God does not love us because we are wonderful,

    but rather, we are wonderful (or can be) because God loves us.  DO I


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