“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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
You might have read about Tal Fortgang, the Princeton freshman who earlier this year pressed back against what he thought was an unfair counsel to “check your privilege at the door.” Today’s gospel provides its own “check” on privilege. It reminds us that God doesn’t value the structures and the ways of the world, including who and what the world privileges.
When I lived in Tanzania, I once teasingly asked a poor mother with a load of children which of them she favored. She understood my question as a serious one and told me that her “favorite” changed all the time: “Whichever one is suffering the most is my favorite.” Her approach to loving was divine. I write “divine” because we learn in today’s Gospel that our God is inclined to show special generosity to the poor and outcast. No wonder I, enjoying my privilege, sometimes get anxious.
—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. is a professor of education and Rector of the Jesuit community at John Carroll University, University Heights OH.
Lord, help us to release our tight grip that clings to comparisons that place us above the other or cause us to think less of ourselves. Such comparisons may become so habitual that we are dulled to their negative impact on our energy and generosity. Let your Spirit intercede so we turn away from such thoughts. Fill us with gratitude for your infinite love, and let us rejoice in the good news of others!
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!