Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20-24; Matthew 20:1-16
How often Do I wonder about people getting more than they deserve? I may not actually say it out loud, but that changes nothing. When I think like that, I am thinking like the hired workers in today’s parable who believe they’ve been cheated.
To me, that’s the interesting part of this parable.
The Greek says that each received a denarius, a silver coin and the standard day’s wage. And this denarius covered the annual poll tax demanded by the Roman government. That’s a nice amount to earn.
When I trap myself in comparison with others, why do I need to do better? Why do I ruin my enjoyment of good fortune because someone else isn’t worse off than I am?
The Catholic tradition reminds me that Heaven and Hell aren’t locations, but states of being.
How perverse! I’ve actually turned the “heaven” of good fortune into my “hell” because I didn’t get more. I’m not grateful for what I have but upset by what someone else has and that I do not have more!
But in spiritual terms, what is this denarius? Is it compensation or the product of my effort?
The New Testament suggests that the “pay-off” is doing God’s will for me. How can I be jealous of that? What could I ever do to earn that?
I’ve read about martyrs who went joyfully to their execution. More persuasively, I’ve been with dying people who were radiant on their death bed, eager to move on. For me, that testifies that Heaven is not being pleased or affirmed; being completely disposed to God transfigures death itself into Heaven.