A Message from Fr. Jay
Have you ever experienced standing in a long line at a grocery store or airport and when you almost reach the counter, another counter opens and you see those who came much later getting served immediately? I’m sure that I give an odd look or murmur something under my breath. There is something similar happening in the gospel today.
In this commercial and competitive world, it might look like an unfair business to pay equally to the person who came much later in the evening for work. But you know, God is a different type of entrepreneur! He Himself makes it clear with His own words in the first reading, ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.’
God is a serious Entrepreneur who cares for His business. His business is not on money or pay. His business is about saving souls. He makes sure that everyone will be given opportunity and felt accepted in His business and paid with dignity. He understands the division of labor and appreciates the special skills of those who came much later in the evening; He not only hires someone to work in His vineyard but also wants the laborers to take the sense of ownership of the vineyard. He finds something special in the workers who were considered semi-skilled or unskilled.
The Jesuit missionaries in India who are the pioneers of the education ministry, run a number of prestigious colleges and universities. The top ranking students from urban, elite, and rich communities always compete to gain admission in their educational institutions. But the Jesuit missionaries, while doing service for the top students, also run quality institutions for students from rural and poor communities where an average student would also be given a college education. It is the Jesuits’ preferential option to serve social justice.
The laborers in the gospel are caught in between ‘competition and reward’. In the second reading Paul also writes about a similar tension ‘And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught in between the two.’
We are called to be the laborers of His vineyard who appreciate human dignity. Let us not be caught in between the commercial and competitive attitudes of this world but work for dignity that comes from the image and likeness of God Himself.
Fr. Jay Raju