“Why be Envious because I am Generous?”
It is not easy to understand the mind of God, and in today’s Gospel of the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, we could be tempted to side with the labourers who were hired first and worked the longest, because when we hear that they got paid the same as those who had arrived at the last moment, it might seem extremely unfair. It might also remind us of our futile attempts to try and understand why some people seem to make it through life with a fairly easy ride while others have many crosses. For this reason in the First Reading from Isaiah, God tells us that, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways not your ways.”
However, Our Lord is saying that we shouldn’t emulate the disgruntled labourer, but rather the generosity of the landowner who represents God. Those who complained were envious of the landowner’s generosity – envy being the desire to have what someone else has, not because we necessarily need it, but because we see someone else possessing it. Envy, of course, can lead on to other sins such as jealousy, theft, slander and even murder, which is why it is regarded as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
This parable, on the other hand is telling us to rejoice at God’s generosity to others. None of us is deserving of His grace and His many blessings. The landowner is extremely generous with these latecomers, and in a way are we not all latecomers? After all, have any of us ever spent every waking hour in God’s service? Of course not, because we have all sinned. But God forgives us of our sins whenever we repent, even if it is in the final moments of life. We all have reason to be grateful that God is generous!
Fr Paul Gillham