A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

Liturgic day: Sunday 25th (A) in Ordinary Time

Gospel text (Mt 20,1-16): Jesus told his disciples this parable, «The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the workers a salary of a silver coin for the day, and sent them to his vineyard.

»He went out again at about nine in the morning, and seeing others idle in the square, he said to them: ‘You, too, go to my vineyard and I will pay you what is just’. So they went. The owner went out at midday and again at three in the afternoon, and he did the same. Finally he went out at the last working hour —it was the eleventh— and he saw others standing there. So he said to them: ‘Why do you stay idle the whole day?’. They answered: ‘Because no one has hired us’. The master said: ‘Go and work in my vineyard’.

»When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager: ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first’. Those who had come to work at the eleventh hour turned up and were given a denarius each (a silver coin). When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received a denarius each. So, on receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner. They said: ‘These last hardly worked an hour, yet you have treated them the same as us who have endured the day's burden and heat’. The owner said to one of them: ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on a denarius a day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Don't I have the right to do as I please with my money? Why are you envious when I am kind?’. So will it be: the last will be first, the first will be last».

Comment: Fr, Jaume GONZÁLEZ i Padrós (Barcelona, Spain)

Why are you envious when I am kind?

Today, the evangelist keeps depicting the Kingdom of God, after Jesus' teachings, and which, during these Summer Sundays, is extolled in our Eucharistic Assemblies.

In the background of today's Gospel lies the vineyard, prophetic image of the people of Israel in the Old Testament, and now, of the new people of God, born from the wounded side of the Lord in the Cross. The question: to belong to this people, as the effect of God's personal call to each one of us: «It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you» (Jn 15:16), and, thanks to the volition of our Father in heaven, to extend this call to all men, motivated by His generous will of salvation.

In this parable, the grumblings of the workers of the first hour are enhanced. They are the parallel image of the elder brother of the parable of the prodigal son. Those who see their task to win the Kingdom of God (the work in the vineyard) as a heavy affliction («we have endured the day's burden and heat»: Mt 20:12) and not as a privilege which God favors them with, are not working with filial joy but with the ill temper manner of the servants.

Faith, for them, is something that binds and enslaves, and, deep inside, they envy those that “live life”, inasmuch as they conceive the Christian conscience as a constraint rather than as the wings that provide our human life with a divine flight. They think it is better to remain spiritually idle, instead of living under the glow of God's word. They feel entitled to their salvation and, accordingly, they are jealous. Their miserable and mean spirit notably contrasts with the Father's generosity, who «who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth» (1Tim 2:4), and this is why He calls us to his vineyard, «The Lord is good to all, compassionate to every creature» (Ps 145:9).