The Gospel this week may not be one of our favorites…
“It’s not fair!”
It’s a common response from children amongst siblings, but it’s also something we adults often feel. One may think that Jesus isn’t being fair when we hear this parable. It goes against what some of us value, the value of a hard day’s work and receiving proper and just compensation for it. To think that we worked all day while someone else worked for only one hour and we both received the same pay would drive some of us wild.
“It’s not fair! “
But what the landowner says in response to the workers is correct. “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?” The landowner made the workers an offer when they took the job and he kept his word. You work for me today and I’ll pay you “X” amount of money. Paying someone else more is up to him.
Why do you think the workers got upset that the others got paid the same for less work? It could be that they were more focused on the pay and not the sense of purpose or pleasure in doing the work. This is something we should ask ourselves. Why do I do what I do, is it for money, recognition, praise from others or pure sense of purpose? If you’re doing something that is not self-satisfying and self-fulfilling, you might have some resentment and anger about doing it, and when someone comes along doing the same job and gets paid more, you’re likely to feel resentful like the workers in the parable.
The story is told of Yogi Berra. The New York Yankees were at their peak and were negotiating contracts for the next year. A group of reporters interviewed players as they emerged from the owner’s office, and one of them asked Yogi Berra about the terms of his contract. In his characteristically, plain-spoken style, he said, “I’m gonna get to play baseball again next year for the Yankees, and would you believe it, they’re gonna pay me besides!” That’s the way to think about gainful employment, doing what you do and doing it well and getting paid for it too.
A second point I’d like to make is with the disgruntled workers in the parable, I feel perhaps they lacked a sense of gratitude. Think about it. I know, like probably many of you as well, how it feels to be out of work. It’s not the best of times, it’s a difficult situation. Can you remember how grateful you were when you got that call with a job offer? It’s the best feeling! In the parable, some of the workers who showed up to find the positions filled were saddened and stayed around all day and were probably hoping for a different opportunity or vacancy of sorts, so they could work to feed their families. Then suddenly the landowner shows up and offers them a job. What a feeling of relief and gratitude.
At that point the worker would accept any amount of money to help feed his family. It was more than what he had started with! At the end of the day the landowner pays them all the same because he knows that it takes “X” amount of money to feed their families, so he is generous enough to do so. We, too, need to consider those less fortunate in our daily lives. You probably heard this before: “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” The same holds true for every level of work. Are you able to clean your house or mow the lawn? Are you able to buy your groceries and pay your bills? There are those who are not able to do any of these things. The more we consider how blessed we are, the more we’re able to look upon those less fortunate with compassion instead of resentment.
So let us be open to recognizing our blessings and recognizing the needs of others by reaching out to our sisters and brothers. May we always remember that our God is never outdone in generosity. May we strive to be more like Him!
Peace of Christ,
Deacon Ray Ferreris