THEME: SALVATION IS GOD’S GIFT.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul
HOMILY FOR WEDNESDAY AUGUST 17 2022
‘I choose to give to this last as I give to you.’
The Gospel passage yesterday ended with “many that are first will be last, and the last first.” Today’s passage (Matthew 20:1-16) is meant to explain these our Lord’s words, “many who are first will be last, and the last first,” because these same words are repeated at the end of the parable, in verse 16. The parable goes like this. A landowner needed to hire day labourers to work in his fields, and so he went to the labour pool and hired a number of workers. He agreed to pay these workers the standard wage, a denarius a day. Needing more help, he made several more trips to the labour pool, hiring additional workers. But to these workers, he gave no specific commitment. He did not tell them what he would pay, only that he would do “whatever is right.” The last group of workers was hired one hour before the workday ended. The landowner made no specific commitment to them about how much they were to receive.
Traditionally, the workers were paid for their labours at the end of the workday. When it came time to pay, the landowner began with those workers who had laboured for only an hour. Everyone was amazed when they saw that these workers were given a full day’s pay, for only one hour’s work. You can imagine how the rest of the workers began to reason to themselves. The ones who worked two hours must be getting paid twice the daily rate, and the ones who worked all day must be getting eight denarai.
The parable deals only with the “first” and the “last” groups, for rather obvious reasons (“the last will be first, and the first will be last”). It is those who are hired first who protest when they are paid their normal wage, even though this was the payment upon which they had agreed. It is not so much that they had been cheated, by being paid less than the rate agreed upon; it is that the last group of workers were paid more than they deserved.
No one was cheated here. The protest had to do with the generosity of the landowner towards the late-comers, who worked a mere hour. They hardly broke a sweat, but they were paid a full day’s wage. The thing that angered the early workers was not the landowner’s greed, but his grace or generosity. They were angry that while they worked hard for what they got, the late workers received the same reward, but for very little labour.
A sense of entitlement sometimes breeds greed, anger, negative ambition etc. People who show it are particularly dangerous because they appeal to their own ego and not compassion. We just believe it is their right for certain reasons. And they will do anything no matter how evil it is to fight for that right. There are Christians who feel that others do not deserve the blessings they have because they have put in less. There are equally others who look at certain members of the church as people who are already doomed and shouldn’t even bother coming to Church. Still others question God why some are favoured while they are excluded from His blessings or their prayers not granted.
Salvation must first be seen as God’s generous gift before we consider how much effort we have put into God’s service. The goodness of man outside God is useless. He must work to earn his reward but must bear in mind that the reward is still a gift. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our world, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Please, stay safe. Good morning.
Fr. Karabari Paul