The following Homily is provided by Friar Sidney as a way
of enriching the ministry of the Word as presented through
this web site. Friar Sidney, who has spent much of his
ministry in India, is currently a Professor of Philosophy
in Rome. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The texts
used by Friar Sydney come from the Roman Lectionary - which in
most points agrees with the Revised Common Lectionary.
Isaiah 55:6-9. Philippians 1:20-24 & 27. Matthew 20:1-16.
What is our attitude to work? Let us reflect on this basic
element of our life: Work.
In our days, we have got used to Trade Unions taking action being
very vigilant. I am sure if what we just read in the Gospel took
place today, there would be a huge hue and cry. For us justice
has a very definite sense of equality. Salaries are linked to
hours of work. A skilled worker gets more than an unskilled
worker. If workers have the same skills, the same hours of work
and similar responsibilities, we expect them to get the same
wages. Equality is justice and justice is equality.
This is our way of reasoning. Therefore, this parable does sound
strange to our ears.
However, if we read this Parable carefully, we notice that it is
not talking about wages and justice. For such an interpretation,
too many details are lacking.
First, as regards the workers: we are not told anything about
their skills. We are not told anything about the salary that was
agreed upon. We are only told that each time the landowner went
out, he came across people who wanted to work but had as yet
found no employment.
Second, as regards the landowner: he is quite sure that he has
not committed any injustice. Every worker received his due. The
late comers also received what was their due for a day's work.
If there is anything strange, it is the decision of the owner.
He asks those who grumble about his decision: Why be envious
because I am generous?
Third, almost unnoticed is the fact that all were willing to
work. It is this attitude that is plentifully rewarded by the
Linked to the other readings, I would draw the following
First, are we all ready to work because work in itself is
something good. Is it not true that we mostly choose work
because of financial reasons and benefits?
Second, do we merely consider our worth in terms of salaries?
This parable really bursts such an equation.
Third, there is more in life than the logic of action and reward.
There is the generosity of Life, that is, the Trinitarian God,
who has made us His co-workers on this Earth of His.
Indeed, as the first reading tells us: God's thoughts are not
Paul, was a latecomer in preaching the Gospel. But he worked
with zeal and interest for God's News of Redemption and Salvation
It is not the salary or the post that counts in God's eyes. It is
zeal for His House, zeal for working for His Reign, that counts.
copyright - Friar Sydney Mascarenhas and Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1999 - 2005
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.