25th Sunday in Ordinary Time A
In last week’s Gospel we began a series of parables which we will hear and reflect on over the next few weeks. With this parable it is easy, perhaps, to identify with the different, even opposing, characters as we see in some other parables. Depending on how we are feeling about our own life experiences we can identify with the person hired last, first or somewhere in between.
If we identify with the first to be hired we may be tempted to shout ‘it’s not fair!’ We want things to be equal and they’re not and yet the landowner is being fair – he pays the first workers what he promised them. It’s just that, having seen the last workers being paid one denarius each for just an hour’s work, they presumed they would get more for having worked all day.
What the first workers find hard is the generosity of the landowner. They received what he promised it is just that he was very generous with the last workers employed. Indeed the landowner was generous as he was offering a day’s pay that was almost as good as that of a Roman solider. We may feel like those first workers while at the same time forgetting that so often we are dependent on the landowner – God – to be generous with us. We are so often on the receiving end of His mercy and His forgiveness, not forgetting His love!
We can also reflect on the possibility that Jesus is telling the parable not just because he wants His listeners to hear about God’s mercy and His generosity but also to encourage US to be merciful and generous where other people are concerned. Following on from the example in this parable we would need to be merciful and forgiving to those who don’t, in our eyes, deserve it as well as those who DO deserve it.
How does it feel to be the one not chosen, the one without work? Many reading this may know that demeaning feeling or experience. In recent months, and perhaps in the future as businesses have to shut as a result of the pandemic, many more will also experience this rejection. How many times have we been willing to do things, out ourselves forward and not been chosen, not successful or not wanted? How have we felt? Surely those experiences allow us to feel some empathy for the workers hired last. Just as God ‘hires’ us, so, too, we need to be aware of those in need whom we can help.
Each of us has many opportunities – every day – to help others, to give them an opportunity to work or to grow. We don’t always make use of those opportunities. We often take the easier route so maybe this week we can look to give a chance to those who need ‘hiring’ and give them the chance that they need, wouldn’t that be worth celebrating?
Sr. Margaret Mattison