Twenty-Fifth Sunday, YR A, 24 September, 2023: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20-24, 27a; Matthew 20:1-16
Today’s Gospel could address our culture afflicted with entitlement. Or should I suggest that the laborers hired at the beginning of the day might rejoice in the good fortune of those hired in the late afternoon? Well, I believe that’s easier said than done for any of us.
From another perspective, the Talmud offers a similar parable in the tractate on Blessings, suggesting that those hired in the morning could spread out a day’s work at a leisurely pace, while those hired at the eleventh hour worked at a feverish pace to complete the job—they earned their generous wage as much as those who worked all day. Even today it’s not unknown that a supervisor has to step in at the end of a job to correct the mistakes and shortcuts of the originally assigned workers, doubling his work without any recompense.
So far I’ve only mentioned the work and payment; perhaps the point is clearer when we look at the story spiritually. Do I aim at doing God’s will, God’s work, because I’ll be paid for my efforts or because the opportunity and means and a clear sense of God’s will are given me?
Does God gain from what I do, or do I gain from the God-given opportunity? What’s the real value? The wage agreed upon or the actual task at hand?