There’s a great lesson in today’s gospel. We may need to dig deep for the total honesty needed to admit how we would feel in the situation, even if the feeling was just a twinge. If that were the case we would know that we were at least on the right path. It’s one of those lessons that we need to really encounter – not just to read about – in order to know for sure how we would feel, but even speculating on it begins the process of self-scrutiny.
The story is the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where some were hired in the early morning and worked all day. Some found work only for the last work-hour before quitting time. When it was time to collect wages at the end of the day and those who had worked all day got the same amount of money that those who worked just one hour were paid, there was lots of consternation and grumbling because the first people who got their pay were the last hired and they got the agreed upon wage. The natural conclusion would have been that those who had worked all day would get more…Not so! They got the agreed-upon wage.
How would you feel if you had toiled all day in the sun picking grapes and expected a bonus because you knew that those who had been hired last got what you had agreed upon in the morning? We could argue that the actions of the vineyard owner were not “fair” but would lose the argument if we had already known and agreed on the amount coming to us.
Think about it this way however. What if you had a family and were standing around in the hot sun all day begging God to let someone hire you so you could buy food for tomorrow for your children? Or what if you had looked and looked for work and this was the only job available and just for an hour? Does that help?
How ever we look at it, we ought to ask ourselves the question that the owner of the vineyard asked the discontented workers: Are you envious because I am generous? And don’t just theorize…Dig deep for how you would feel. Then consider how blessed we are to have a generous God who knows what is best for us to help us grow into our best selves.