The Gospel, according to Matthew (20:1-16) Jesus told his disciples this parable: “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.”
REFLECTION: Dear brothers and sisters, we are blessed once again by today’s Gospel with another parable from our Lord Jesus. It tells of a landowner who hired workers for his vineyard early in the morning, and at different times throughout the course of the day, even all the way up to five PM. And when the workers were paid, the ones who were hired early in the morning complained because they received the same wages than those who worked only one hour. But we hear the landowner say, “Are you envious because I am generous?”
God, in His mercy, is generous beyond comprehension. But we, as fallen humans, are constantly checking whether we are getting our fair share and comparing ourselves to others. Then we tend to notice with a sort of sorrow that we do not have what they do. And that my brothers and sisters, is envy.
The cure for envy is wholehearted generosity. Not just generosity with our money but generosity with our affections and our ability to rejoice in the blessings that others receive. For example, if someone were to tell you that they were going on a nice vacation next month to a place you always wanted to go, how would you react? Some people might jokingly say, “Wow, I’m jealous!” Jealousy can quickly turn into envy, which is a form of sorrow over the blessings another has that you do not. And that sorrow over the blessings of another can subsequently turn to anger.
Whenever we notice this form of unholy sorrow within us, take notice. It means that we lack a selfless generosity toward others. And if we see God blessing another in spiritual riches, try to generously rejoice in that. Offer praise and thanks to God for His goodness. Don’t dwell on it and dismiss every temptation to compare.
In many ways, everyone of us is represented by those who worked only one hour and received the full daily wage. This is because we could never earn the grace of salvation. The one and only reason we can receive the gift of eternal salvation and every other grace given to us by God is because God is infinitely generous. The goodness and generosity of God must be our constant focus, and we must rejoice in that generosity when it is given to us and when it is also given to others.
ACTION FOR THE DAY: Reflect, today, upon any tendency you have toward envy. Think about the blessings that others have been given that you have not. Sincerely look at your interior reaction to that and pray that God will grant you the gift of being able to be generous in your rejoicing in those blessings. Every blessing given by God must be the cause of our joy, no matter if those blessings are bestowed upon us or upon others.