Are you someone that gets to Sunday Mass ten to fifteen minutes early? Are you someone that seems to make it right on time? Or are you always running late, getting there after Mass has already started? Well, this may sound odd to you, but I love watching the faithful who run late and sneak in after the entrance song or First Reading. I love to observe the faithful around me, the variety of expressions on people’s faces. The grandma staring down the new young family that has a noisy child, the people who roll their eyes as others come in late…
Jesus shares with us today in the Gospel, a pretty lengthy parable. The landowner hires laborers for his vineyard and some have been working all day in the heat. The landowner runs into more laborers who are just standing around late in the day. He asks them why they aren’t working and as he finds that no one has hired them, he does them a favor and sends them into his vineyard. At the end of the work day, everyone was given the usual daily wage. The laborers who started early in the morning were upset they did not receive more, since they worked far more hours in the hot sun then those who were hired later in the day. The landowner said to them, “My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
I absolutely love the message Jesus gives us in this parable. Here we find the absolute generosity of God! Today, I believe we’d all have the same grumbles of the first workers if we were in their shoes. We’re use to clocking in and clocking out. Maybe many of us would be offended if an entry level worker went home with the same paycheck as the top earner. The landowner reminds them that he is free to use his money as he wishes and calls them out on being envious.
I’d like to challenge you to think of this story in the context of God’s grace. How many of us act like the grumbling laborers spiritually? Perhaps you work so hard day in and day out to please the Lord. You have countless holy hours, daily rosary & Mass… Perhaps you see other’s blessings and tend to feel jealousy since you “work harder”. All those spiritual efforts and works are so good and bring the Lord much joy, but we must be as generous as He is. When the family that has a new baby arrives late to Mass, we should smile in joy that they still decided to come! When someone sneaks in the back after the Gospel reading, we shouldn’t look at them with judgement, but offer welcome and hospitality. When multiple toddlers are being noisy and distracting, may we praise God for them. The Church is our Mother and should be flexible and generous to all families. We, as the Body of Christ, must cultivate that same attitude of generosity! I believe it’s important to remind ourselves that we don’t know the hearts of those around us. We don’t know their crosses, pains, and circumstances. May we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ with the generosity that the landowner had one his laborers and remember that the last will be first, and the first will be last.
Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese