Spiritual readings for Sunday 24th September
18 September 2017 CGI news
Week of 18th September (reference: readings for Sunday 24th September)
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Reading: Phil 1,20c-24. 27; Mt 20,1-16
"The last shall be first and the first shall be the last."
The Gospel of this week is very intriguing. It goes against all business management courses that reinforce the idea of payment for work. These principles of good management consider that each person must be measured according to his result and, therefore, his reward should be proportional. The (good) will of who pays and of who receives the salary is not taken into account.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI states that, more than expressing what work was like in the time of Jesus, the Parable of the labourers in the vineyard is very topical. Let us imagine a square of an inland town, where poor farmers are waiting for the big landowners to come and hire them for a day’s wage, i.e. paying the wage per day, to work the land.
The first ones who were hired in the morning went to work happy because they would earn their wages and could take home the sustenance of that day. But what happened with the rest who stayed on the square, waiting for anyone hiring them? Perhaps they did not want to work? Of course they did! Simply, they did not go to work "because no one hired them" (vs. 7).
What is the reaction we would like the land owner to have toward us, if we were left (for any reason) without being hired, distressed because we could not take the day wage to our family? Would we like the landowner to come and say: "come tomorrow, I’ll hire you"? Or would we like him to say: "very well, you can go and work on my land, but today I only pay an hour of work"? I think that we would feel frustrated, because we could not bring the wage home. In the end, those who started work in the morning were already happy, because they could support their families. And what about us, who arrived early at the square, but no one hired us?
What would be our reaction now, if we were those who, by chance, were hired from the morning and received the same salary as those who worked for just an hour? Do we understand that others have to support their family as well, or would we complain to the employer so that he pay them less, since they only worked one hour?
The truth is that we often evaluate others for their results and us, for our intentions. But the Lord of the Vineyard and of Life thinks differently. He evaluates for the intention first and for the result later. He adds a more important ingredient: mercy. The same mercy that we want from God, when we stay behind and are not hired, or we are not promoted in our work, or we do not receive a salary increase.
Perhaps, as Vincentians, we think sometimes in the same way? We always want to be recognized for the good work that we have done and we forget that our brothers in the ministry have an intention as good and great as ours; but, for any reason, they could not stick out in their Vincentian or professional life. On the other hand, we sometimes judge the poor that we serve, through his results: "he spends Sunday relaxing, when he could very well work in building his house; after all, it is the Conference that pays the materials with the money of its members".
Are we able to forget for a moment the results and understand the intention of others - brothers in vocation or assisted people, judging them and rewarding them with mercy, as God does with us?