September 24, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
September 24, 2017
Fr. George Smiga
Jobs at the time of Jesus did not come with benefits. A landowner would hire workers when there was a need and let them go as soon as the work was finished. This meant that finding a job was a full-time occupation for most people, and those who did not find jobs regularly would simply not survive. With this in mind, how would you feel if you were one of the workers looking to be hired in today’s gospel? You go out early in the morning before dawn to the marketplace, and your excitement rises as the landowners come and begin sending people into the vineyards. But no one hires you. You decide to stay on for a while in case other landowners show up. And they do. Some come at nine, others at noon, others at three in the afternoon. Yet, each time you are passed over. No one chooses you. Some of the workers who are waiting with you decide to call it quits. “That’s enough for today,” they say. “We will come back tomorrow.” But you decide to wait longer, hoping against hope that there will be another chance. And there is. At five o’clock, a landowner comes out and sends you into the vineyard. Then to your great surprise he pays you a full day’s wage. How would you feel if you were this worker? You would certainly be thankful that you did not go home with most of the other workers at three o’clock.
When we look at today’s parable from the perspective of those who were hired last, it becomes a parable of hope. We see God as the landowner, the one who we are waiting for to bring us what we need to live. But God is following no schedule. Sometimes God comes in the morning, sometimes at noon, and sometimes God comes in the late afternoon when it is almost impossible to imagine God’s arrival. Today’s parable asks us, then, not to be discouraged when we see others receiving what they need before us. It tells us that God knows what we need, and God will come for us.
You might have been looking for some time for a person with whom you can share your life, someone you can marry and with whom you can raise a family. You meet people, begin relationships, but they fall apart. Your friends are finding spouses. They even invite you to their weddings. But you begin to think, “I will never find someone to love.” Today’s parable tells you that God knows what is in your heart, and God will come for you. It is not too late to hope.
You might be worried about some member of your family, a child or a grandchild, who seems lost and unhappy. You listen as your friends show you happy pictures of their children and grandchildren, and tell you about their personal and financial successes. Today’s parable reminds you that God loves your children and grandchildren even more than you do. So you should continue to hope. The day is not yet over.
You might be dealing with grief over the loss of someone you have lost in death. You know that you should get back to living, but somehow you just cannot move forward. You watch as your friends who have lost loved ones begin to socialize and begin new relationships. But you say to yourself, “I am not sure I will ever be able to heal.” Today’s gospel parable says that God is coming for you. It might be late, but God will not forget your need.
The parable of the workers in the vineyard tells us that God is indeed coming to bring us what we need to live. Others might be receiving what they need before us, but God’s coming to us will not be too late. Those who are hired last in the parable receive a full day’s wage. Therefore there is reason to hope that when God comes for us, God will not be stingy. We will receive more than we ever expected.