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,
the landowner 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,
the landowner 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.”
Praised be Jesus Christ!
One of the common complaints we hear is how unfair life can be. We see our neighbors or friends with a seemingly perfect life (at least on Facebook), and we long for and can be jealous of their life. We know this envy is sinful, but we often can’t help ourselves. The urge toward jealousy can happen almost naturally.
In the Gospel today, it is clear that envy and jealousy are destructive to the one who harbors them. Envy is one of the seven dealy sins. It kills the spirit. It drains our spiritual lives.
How often we measure what others have or receive. Why do we harbor jealousy and envy when someone is shown forgiveness, mercy, and compassion? Hasn’t Our Lord treated us with forgiveness, mercy, and compassion? Why do we resent it when others receive it?
Perhaps the answer lies with our own spiritual ingratitude for what we receive from God. Definitely, jealousy and envy withers our spirit. As has been said, “Jealousy is like drinking poison ourselves but expecting the other person to die from it.” No, we die from it.
Therefore, we must move beyond these destructive emotions. In the Gospel, we hear about the landowner who gave the same daily wage to all his workers, no matter how long they worked. Those who worked all day were envious of those people who only worked for one hour. They were jealous that the late-comers got a “better deal,” even though it was his right to pay what he wanted. We cannot fathom God’s measure of generosity to us. He distributes His mercy in the way He chooses.
Today, let us recommit ourselves to a holy way of life. Let us look upon each person with the love of Christ, and rejoice in God’s generosity to us without measuring it against what others receive.
As always, know of my prayers before Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.