SUNDAY 24 September 2017,
25th Sunday ___ • Isaiah 55:6-9 • Psalm 145 • Philippians 1:20c-24 • + Matthew 20:1-16a •
I like to start with something positive.
A strong emotion is -- RESENTMENT – or the feeling of indignation or persistent displeasure over an insult or some wrongdoing.
Two individuals – or two countries or nations – can experience this indignation, displeasure.
And, perhaps, the last thing we want is someone to help us. I could say that my RESENTMENT is a consolation – a comfort to me – because it proves… hey, I was right all along.
[__02__] In the parable, there is RESENTMENT in the vineyard and among the vineyard workers.
Why are they so steamed, so displeased?
It´s just one day, right. Maybe they should just CHILL ..and the sun´ll come out tomorrow, right? There´ll be sun.
What Jesus expresses in the parable is not your feeling or my feeling about one day or one paycheck or one annual salary or bonus.
The hours of the work day represent an entire life span. And, symbolically the ¨daily wage¨ (or paycheck) is our eternal reward, our communion and community with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in heaven.
[__03__] And, you and I are also learning to follow God´s ways so that we not only reach Heaven at some point in the future, but recognize that we are called to die to ourselves, to die to our own agendas each day.
[__04__] In this particular reading and rendition of the parable, we are told that the workers are “envious”. That is, the group of workers who were working all day long represent those of us who have really tried through childhood, youth, young adulthood, adulthood – our entire life – to learn the Commandments, follow the Commandments, go to church, teach our young people.
That is, such lifelong Catholics “bore the day’s burden and the heat.”
I am grateful to my own mother and father for our upbringing in this way.
[__05__] Nevertheless, when I follow one path and another person follows another path and we both reach the same destination, I might be more than a little ENVIOUS of the person.
And, this manifestation of ENVY can be much more hurtful to both me and to others.
There are lesser manifestations of envy. For example, one of might envy another person’s seemingly effortless and loving family. The grass is always greener.
Or, we envy another person’s giftedness or talent or skill whether as MUSICIAN, or MIDFIELDER.
In some cases, these milder – less dangerous forms of envy – might really be a form admiration or inspiration for us to work harder or to give thanks.
Years ago, a priest in confession advised me regarding a penance and prayer after my own admission of feeling envy / jealousy over another person’s material success and wealth.
He suggested – pray for that person. Pray that his wealth may even increase, that his wealth and success will be a blessing to him, to his family, to the world.
[__06__] In some instances, ENVY could morph into – could be amped up into – RESENTMENT.
This is the problem of the workers in the vineyard.
[__07__] In the parable, we learn that God has a reward, an eternal reward that is greater than any of our material possessions, paychecks, or talents.
Moreover, this reward – our communion with God in heaven – is not based on what we deserve.
For do we not believe that Jesus died for our sins, knowing that we would still commit them?
[__08_] Yes, it is true some people show up later in life for their salvation or for their sacraments or for their prayers or for their fasting.
But, the parable also tells us that these workers – not yet hired -- were just waiting around, waiting to be called, to be found.
For those of who have known Christ’s presence in the sacraments – for our entire lives – we do not necessarily have this experience of just “waiting around”. We do not have the anxiety of the waiting around.
[__09_] Many of us were the first to appear; and other workers are later, the last.
Yet, our reward is the same.
Also, we might recall that our eternal reward is more of a relay race than an individual sprint to the finish line.
You and I, by following the Commandments can help others grow closer to God by our example, love.
We need to help each other to turn our RESENTMENT – or ENVY – into recognition of God’s ways, God’s payback to each of us.
The last shall be first.