September 20, 2020 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092020.cfm)
To seek recognition, affirmation and praise are all part of growing up. We see this among our children as they always try to get the attention of their parents or among the adults around them. Children have their own way of getting attention. However, when parents become indifferent to this need of a child, this could leave a hallow and painful part in the life of a child. Thus, when the child becomes an adult, he or she would most probably continue seeking recognition and affirmation from people around in order to satisfy that need which the person did not receive from home.
We could be this person who continually seek to be recognized, affirmed and praised. There is nothing wrong with this need. However, this could also lead us to become bitter, unsatisfied and envious of others despite the talents we have developed or despite the success we have achieved. We would tend to accumulate more and demand for more praises and affirmations to the point of becoming indifferent towards the needs of others.
The tendency to accumulate more praises and demand for greater reward because of the good qualities we have can only poison our hearts and relationships. This tendency makes our heart unwelcoming to others who need more than us.
This attitude was what the Pharisees showed at the time of Jesus. They believed that their superiority made them deserving of all God’s goodness and graces. They cannot accept the teaching of Jesus that others could also experience the goodness of God. They despised Jesus for offering God’s forgiveness and gift of healing to the poor, the sick, and sinners. They despised Him because they believed that God’s grace was reserved for them alone.
This is what we find in the Gospel. It teaches us how God treats all of us, showing concern and compassion.
This parable speaks of the generosity of the landowner towards the workers. The first ones who were hired on that day felt jealous with those who were hired at the last hour. The first ones worked the whole day and the last ones worked only for an hour. But then, they all received the same wage according to the agreed wage for that whole day work.
The first ones were disappointed because they thought that those who only worked for an hour did not deserve for that wage. Since they worked hard, they should be above them and those who worked less should not be treated like them. But then, for the landowner, if he will not give the usual wage for those who were hired last then the food that they will bring for their families will not be enough. They will still starve on that day. It means that the parable actually is not about labor issues but of God’s generosity to each of us.
Indeed, this is what we always believed that when we are more gifted than the others, more intelligent, more educated and so the more we feel entitled, and seeking to have more; and those who are lesser than us, should have less. When we feel that we are more religious, going to church and saying the rosary daily, we might think that we are far better than those who don’t go to church and do not pray. When we feel that our educational achievements, our status in the community, or our material possessions make us higher in dignity than others, then, we might believe that we can just ignore those whom we think as lesser than us, and become indifferent with those who do not belong to our class.
Unconsciously, we also become like the Pharisees who did not have the sympathy for those who were struggling in life. The poor, the sick and the weak sinners at the time of Jesus can be today’s young people who have been addicted to drugs, to alcohol, to gambling or any addiction not because they are bad but because of family problems, broken relationships and low self- esteem. They can also be our friends or family members whom we continually bully because they are weaklings, untalented and less intelligent than us. They can be people working for us or those who are around us and doing menial jobs just because they did not have much opportunities like you to uplift their life.
But remember, God relates to us not merely because of the effort that we did but because of “who we are” to Him. God is good to us not because we are deserving but because God is so good and generous. We are all loved by him no matter what, no matter how big our failures were, no matter how serious our sins are.
Thus, for those who have worked hard, for those who have been so faithful to God, this gospel is not meant to discourage you for working hard, for doing your daily devotion but this is meant for us to know that God is generous also towards those who are less fortunate. And we have the role to lift up those who are less fortunate in this life. For those of us who felt that we are lesser beings, felt unworthy because of our mistakes, failures and sins – this Gospel is truly good news for us because God tells us today that we too are blessed because we are loved. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR