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.
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
I once heard a quotation, and I’m sorry I don’t remember its source. It went: “To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and that there will be wonderful surprises.” Today’s Scripture readings seem to turn such a saying upside down, or at least make us re-think, “What’s fair.”
The prophet Isaiah quotes God: “My thoughts are not your thoughts…your ways are not my ways.” In the Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a boss who insisted on paying everyone a full day’s wage, including those who didn’t work a full day. The response from some of the workers: “It’s not fair!” In terms of Jesus’ story, God’s fairness is different from theirs.
Life often isn’t fair, and people frequently blame God for that. The death of loved ones; God’s seeming silence in response to prayers; the flaws in nature that give rise to disasters—all raise questions about God’s “fairness.” And yet there is also the amazing surprise ending to the parable, the generosity of the employer. Is Jesus trying to tell us something about God’s fairness?
Today’s responsorial psalm hints at it: It speaks of God’s graciousness, mercy and kindness. Perhaps we’re meant to delve deeper into what “fairness” means in human terms, so that we can understand it in God’s terms—and to be open to God’s “wonderful surprises.”
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• In the first reading (Is 55:6-9), Isaiah calls the people to repent. What does he want his people to do?
How does Isaiah describe God?
• St. Paul says, in the second reading (Phil 1:20c-24, 27a), that for him, “life is Christ, and death is gain.” Is Paul feeling bad or something?
He seems to feel that he should keep on living. For whose benefit?
• What is this week’s Gospel story (Mt 20:1-16a) all about? What is Jesus trying to teach?
Did the hired workers like the owner’s decision to pay all the workers a full day’s pay even if the last ones hired worked only for one hour?
Could God be that generous in rewarding our efforts to lead a good life?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• Offer to do some chores or some other tasks around the house for your parents.
• Play a game of leapfrog to show the concept from the Gospel of the last being first and the first being last.