Today, in Matthew’s gospel, we hear the story about the vineyard owner who goes out at various times of the day and hires workers. When it comes time to pay them, he pays those who had only worked an hour the same as those who had labored throughout the hot day. I have to admit, if I had shown up at daylight and worked all day, I would expect more than the fellow who didn’t show up until late in the afternoon! Isn’t that only fair? I also admit that I have sympathy for the owner when he says he gave those early laborers exactly what they had agreed to. Additionally, isn’t he free to do with his money as he wishes?
I think my initial reactions simply don’t get the point of what Jesus is saying to us. The very first words of the parable are “the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner.” Jesus is not talking about wage economics or the rights of private property. He is talking about God’s generosity and love for us. Aren’t I being terribly small- minded when I become jealous because of the generosity and love God shows another person?
Don’t such comparisons come from less than divine inspiration? When I discern the source of such movements in my heart, they definitely come from selfishness and self-centeredness. I have to remind myself how undeserving I am of the infinite love God showers upon me. God not only showers his love upon me, He also invites and asks me to shower it upon the people he puts in my life!
So, how will I act today ?!
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits