25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 24/9/2023 - Gospel: Mt 20: 1-16a
God's Generosity
The parable can be divided into two parts: the first one is not about a manager, but the landlord himself, who hires workers to work in his vineyard; and the second part is about the generosity of the landlord, which is beyond all workers' expectation. Workers are hired at various times of the day. The first group begins at dawn, and during the day, more groups are employed at different times, and the last one begins late in the afternoon. Except for the first group of workers who agreed to work for one denarius for a day's work, the workers laboured with trust, and hope in the landlord, who promised them a 'fair wage'. No one knows what is the 'fair wage' because the landowner didn't specify the amount, and yet all the late ones are grateful for being employed at the late hours. The parable corresponds to Isaiah's teaching about the mystery of God's love and generosity. The prophet says:

'Our God is rich in forgiving, my ways not your ways... Yes, the heavens are as high above earth as my thoughts above your thoughts'. Is. 55,9.

The parable demonstrates the differences in terms of human relationships and interactions between the landowner and the workers. For the landowner, it is not his own benefit, but the happiness of the workers that is his first priority. He sees the workers' happiness as his own. He employs workers at different times of the day simply because 'No one hires us'. This phrase reveals the generosity of his heart.' No one hires us', then come to me. He pays the same wages, regardless of their working hours, because he is generous. He pays the last arrivals first and the first arrivals last to reveal the heart of man. His justice is not based on the hours worked, but his love for the workers. His freedom of choice is beyond everyone's expectations.

The parable highlights the generosity of God. All are welcome to work for God and God loves them all equally. Our chronology makes no sense in the lord's vineyard, because our time frame reference for time applies to us, to the finite, not to the infinite. It is impossible to define first or second in infinity. The mention of employment at different times of the day is negated in the time of the payment. What counts is not when someone started, but their desire to respond to the call, and their willingness to work in the Lord's vineyard. We value workers differently in our modern society, and that divides the workers into different classes: blue-colour workers and white-colour workers. There is a huge difference in payment between the CEO and an ordinary worker, and that divides, not unites. The parable seems to say that greatness comes through service, and unity, not the hour nor the quantity of labour.

The workers complain on the ground that those who work only a few hours would receive the same wage as those who labour all day long. This complaint reveals the heart of God and of man; the former is a generous heart, and the latter is in contrast, the wicked heart. God takes control of what to give, how much and to whom. The wicket heart thinks of himself, one's own benefit, regardless of the pain and suffering of others. Complaining about working under the heat of the day makes no sense; because all endure to the same weather. People who have no employment suffered even more, simply their hope of being employed has faded away along with the day. Their worry about what to feed their hungry family increases hour by hour. The employment at the last hour is their saving grace. It enlightens their hope of earning something for their family members, and they are grateful to the landowner.