And Jesus said,] “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘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.”(Matthew 20: 1-16)
In today’s gospel, we are taught to be open to God’s grace of love and mercy. And we are reminded that a generous person neither counts the cost nor expects any return for he or she gives freely and joyfully.
What we see on display today is jealousy, It’s “He got two pieces and I only got one!”
Jesus says that jealousy is begrudging God’s generosity. What that means is this: we think somehow that the good things we have aren’t good enough, because someone else has better things. God is showing favoritism! It’s not fair!
It’s not so much that we think the world is unfair, but that we think God is unfair TO ME.
Let’s face it. There is always an imbalance in life, an unfairness in the way that the bad things of life get handed out—but there’s also an imbalance of generosity. God is far more generous than we imagine or we deserve. God’s grace is unbounded and indiscriminate. We may look at someone else with jealous eyes, believing somehow their good luck is the cause of our misfortune—but what we’re really doing is not trusting God. God’s generosity is so great that no one can take it away from us.
The challenge is to have faith that God’s generosity is the real ruling principle of the universe. To look at the world not through the green-eyed lens of jealous, but with the clear eyes of faith.
We express that confidence in the generosity of God by rejoicing in the good fortune of others. That seems to be a lost art in our personal lives and certainly in our political discourse today. It seems as if politics in the United States is oriented toward making the person who receives less feel even more untitled – there is a stoking of the need to “get even.”
We rejoice and are grateful because anyone experiencing an extra helping in life is proof that God gives extra helpings to us all, if we only look for them. And if we’re willing to acknowledge that, then we’re certain to see the extra helpings that God provides for us, as well—extra helpings we might otherwise have missed if we’d continued to let our eyes be clouded by jealousy.
And the best way to express our belief in the generosity of God’s grace is by being generous ourselves—especially to those we think are somehow benefitting at our expense. Generosity, especially when we’re living in a time when we feel like our resources are scarce, is a powerful way to demonstrate to the world that you believe in a generous God.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may serve you joyfully and serve my neighbor willingly with a generous heart, not looking for how much I can get, but rather looking for how much I can give.
The Lord Jesus wants to fill each one of us with the power and strength of the Holy Spirit so we can bear great fruit for God’s kingdom (the fruit of peace, joy, righteousness, and love) and also bring the fruit of his kingdom to our neighbor as well. We labor for the Lord to bring him praise, honor, and glory. And we labor for our neighbor and for their welfare with the same spirit of loving-kindness and compassion which the Lord has shown to us.