SEPTEMBER 20TH – 25th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“THE CHALLENGE OF SEEING THINGS GOD’S WAY”
by Fr. Walt Wainwright
Each Sunday the church places before us some passage of one of the gospel texts. On most Sundays this year we are receiving gospel lessons from the gospel of St. Matthew. Matthew’s gospel is filled with very colorful parables and ones that jump out at us and when we stop and reflect on them, they challenge us and sometimes the challenge makes us feel very uncomfortable, at least at first. How appropriate that today’s gospel is as colorful as the beautiful autumn season we begin to celebrate this week.
It’s the gospel about the laborers who are hired to work in the vineyard and agree to work or the usual daily wage. There’s no arguing with that. They’re lucky to have work for the day as the wage they will receive will help them to put food on the table for their families. Not too many people had jobs that guaranteed them with a steady income. Living from day to day was a very common occurrence.
The owner of the vineyard wasn’t satisfied with hiring just early in the morning. He went out again at mid-day, in the afternoon and even for the last hours and found still others waiting for work. He hires them all and again they agree on the usual daily wage. The surprise comes when they come in at the end of the day and line up to get their usual daily wage.
The owner tells the foreman to pay those hired last, first, and give them the usual daily wage. They must have been ecstatic getting a full day’s pay, though they worked only a short time. When the others saw this they believed they would be paid more. That’s only fair, right! Big surprise! They get the same daily wage and then the complaining and arguing starts. That’s not fair! We should get more! And by our human standards they’re right. The problem is our standards are not God’s standards.
The owner has to come out and settle the disagreements. I’m not being unfair. You are getting what you agreed on. I’m just being generous. Is that so bad?
Well they all got paid and no one can complain about that. The challenge was that they just had to start thinking like God. I’d like to leave you with this little reflection and challenge you to try thinking as God does.
“My thought are not your thoughts or are my ways your ways.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways about your ways,
My thought about your thoughts’ says the Lord.
How small our thoughts can be, and how poor our ways of seeing and judging.
We think miserly thoughts, and act in miserly ways.
Because we have small minds and small hearts.
Lord open our minds and enlarge our hearts, so that we can think
More like you and act more like you.
Let us not begrudge your goodness to others, knowing
That we too are undeserving of your favors,
And stand more in need of your mercy than your justice.
Enjoy the beauty of this autumn season. Another gift from God!