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Switch to Forum Live View Notable Homilies pertaining to Matthew 20:1-16
6 years ago  ::  Sep 18, 2011 - 6:54PM #1
Thomas A Quinas
Posts: 1,970

. . . the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) gospel reading (NAB translation):


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."


From the Beliefnet archives, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger said this in a '64 homily:


. . . What actually is the Christian reality, the real substance of Christianity that goes beyond mere moralism? What is that special thing in Christianity that not only justifies but compels us to be and live as Christians?

. . . If we are raising the question of the basis and meaning of our life as Christians, as it emerged for us just now, then this can easily conceal a sidelong glance at what we suppose to be the easier and more comfortable life of other people, who will "also" get to heaven. We are too much like the workers taken on in the first hour whom the Lord talks about in his parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-6). When they realized that the day's wage of one denarius could be much more easily earned, they could no longer see why they had sweated all day. Yet how could they really have been certain that it was so much more comfortable to be out of work than to work? And why was it that they were happy with their wages only on the condition that other people were worse off than they were? But the parable is not there on account of those workers at that time; it is there for our sake. For in our raising questions about the "why" of Christianity, we are doing just what those workers did. We are assuming that spiritual "unemployment"—a life without faith or prayer—is more pleasant than spiritual service. Yet how do we know that?


We are staring at the trials of everyday Christianity and forgetting on that account that faith is not just a burden that weighs us down; it is at the same time a light that brings us counsel, gives us a path to follow, and gives us meaning. We are seeing in the Church only the exterior order that limits our freedom and thereby overlooking the fact that she is our spiritual home, which shields us, keeps us safe in life and in death. We are seeing only our own burden and forgetting that other people also have burdens, even if we know nothing of them. And above all, what a strange attitude that actually is, when we no longer find Christian service worthwhile if the denarius of salvation may be obtained even without it! It seems as if we want to be rewarded, not just with our own salvation, but most especially with other people's damnation—just like the workers hired in the first hour. That is very human, but the Lord's parable is particularly meant to make us quite aware of how profoundly un-Christian it is at the same time. Anyone who looks on the loss of salvation for others as the condition, as it were, on which he serves Christ will in the end only be able to turn away grumbling, because that kind of reward is contrary to the loving-kindness of God.

An older homily coinciding with this gospel reading comes from St. Gregory the Pope (excerted from Lesson IX of the 3rd nocturn on Septuagesima Sunday of the Divino Afflatu, which was the form of divine office in effect from 1911 until the Missal of Pope John XXIII was approved in 1960):


For the cultivation of his vineyard (that is, the instruction of his people), the Lord hath never ceased to send into it labourers.  First, by the Fathers, then, by the Prophets and Teachers of the Law, and lastly, by the Apostles.  He hath dressed and tended the lives of his people, as the owner of a vineyard dresseth and tendeth it by means of workmen.  Whoever in whatever degree joined to a right faith the teaching of righteousness, was so far one of God's labourers in God's vineyard.  By the labourers at early morning, and at the third hour, and the sixth hour, and the ninth hour, may be understood God's ancient people, the Hebrews, who strove to worship him with a right faith in company with his chosen ones from the very beginning of the world, and thus continually laboured in his vineyard.  And now, at the eleventh hour, it is said unto the Gentiles also : Why stand ye here all the day idle?

Holiness consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be.. -- St. Therese of Lisieux. For applicable reads: Uniformity with God’s Will by Saint Alphonsus Liguori ... or ... Story of a Soul
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