Reflection of the Week

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Management Unfair

Notice any difference between the attitude of Paul in the second reading and that of the workers in the Matthew’s Gospel? The workers grumble because the latecomers got the same pay as those who worked all day. Paul has worked for the Lord for years, yet he thinks it is better to keep working than to claim his reward of eternal life.

The workers grumbled because the landowner gave the same wages to the ones who only worked for an hour. (You can imagine the picket signs:  Vinedressers Local on Strike: Management Unfair!) Sometimes we see this parable as an explanation for why sinners who repent on their deathbed can get to heaven. But Matthew was more likely referring to the Jews who had served God for centuries and now see newcomer Gentiles claiming equality in the church. They were complaining about God’s generosity in reaching out to all peoples, not just the chosen few. God’s generosity is the real point. Those who realize how blessed they are in being called to do God’s work have no problem sharing that blessing with others. When we see how much God loves us, we naturally want to respond with love and service of our own. That is what the grumblers, both in the parable and in Matthew’s church, were missing.

Contrast that with Paul, who loves the Philippians so much that he is willing to put off his heavenly reward if he can help any more people come to Christ. Paul is more interested in their welfare than in his own reward. That is the attitude that Jesus hopes for in all his disciples. We can love him so much that we can’t help but share that love with those around us. We can be so grateful for what he has done for us that we will suffer anything with joy. We can care more about bringing Jesus to others than we do about our own comfort or even our lives. We can do this because we know the Lord’s ways are not fair—they are more generous than we can imagine!


-- Tom Schmidt

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