The 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Gospel Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
25th Sunday Homily
In today’s Gospel we see the Landowner, Who symbolizes God. He hires various persons throughout the day, and he gives them all the same pay at the end of the day. Going off to work symbolizes the moment when these individuals began to cooperate with God’s grace in their lives. The work symbolizes actually doing God’s will. The pay at the end of the day symbolizes eternal life, salvation!
What we really ought to notice is the fact that the Landowner began on purpose payment to the workers who came last. One would have thought that he would have started with those who worked all day, to avoid the very anger and jealously that appears in the story. Therefore, we have to ask: What point is our Lord trying to make!?
The First Reading tells us: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call to Him while He is still near. Let the scoundrel forsake his ways, and the wicked man his thoughts; Let him turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, Who is generous in forgiving.” See, God is always there with His arms outstretched! He is always there waiting for us to turn to Him.
But why is God so forgiving? Why is He so patient? Well He tells us: “Because my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” Saint Paul, who after fighting against Christ and His disciples, did a 180 degree turnabout and was now able to say: “Christ will be glorified in my body, for to me life is Christ.”
And so we can chose to stand with our arms folded and our backs to God, refusing His grace. But as soon as we are willing to turn around, and begin working for the Lord, even if it be only one hour, or even one minute before we die. Our good God will be there with His generous pay.