Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16a, Jesus teaches us through a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven. The parable is about a landowner who hires workers to work in his vineyard at different hours of the day. Those who start early in the morning with a promise of a just day’s wage assume that they will receive more than those hired at the last minute. It is a fair thought but that is not how it turns out. All the workers receive the same wages. Confronted by the early workers, the owner does not give in: “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?” (Mt 20: 13-14)

Many of us might reason similarly. Those worked the whole day would have the right to expect a little more in payment. And we believe that is a fair game. Moreover, this is our way of thinking, doing and our rules: when we work hard for something, we have a right to expect something.

However, our ways of thinking, doing, ruling are not God’s ways. Our thoughts about fairness and mercy are not God’s thoughts. The prophet Isaiah told us about this merciful God of ours long ago in the Old Testament (first reading). “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Is 55: 8-9)

Indeed the teachings of our God sometimes are hard for us to understand fully. The fact is this we with our limits have no ability to measure the justice and the mercy of God. His act of mercy is beyond our perceptions of divine mercy. Then, let us all knowledge this reality: with God everybody has the right to receive God’s favor and love. And that the work of redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ is for the salvation of the whole humankind.

If we identify ourselves with the early workers who faithfully work in God’s vineyard, we are blessed because God is there always in our lives. If we see ourselves as the late comers into the vineyard, we are also blessed by a merciful God. So, let us believe and profess that our God is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Fr. Phi Nguyen

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