There is a story from several decades ago about a star baseball player who was offered a 30 percent raise by management after the season ended. To his way of thinking, he had a sub-par year and instead offered to take a 30 percent cut in pay! Can you even imagine that in these days when .240 hitters expect a raise? I bring this up because I think it speaks to today's Gospel.
The parables of Jesus are meant to engage our imagination and our emotions. Generally they are intended to tell us something about God; more often than not, they reveal things about ourselves.
Put yourself in the role of the various characters in today's parable. Imagine you are the landowner (management). You go to the marketplace to hire workers. Notice: you go out in search of laborers rather than waiting for them to apply for a job. At various hours you return to hire more workers, promising each group a just wage. AT the end of the workday you give the last group a full day's wage and then proceed to do the same to each of the others. Now you are facing some workers who are confused, angry, disappointed, and disillusioned.
Put yourself among those who were hired first. You worked hard all day through heat, dirt, thirst, sweat, and bugs. When the last group hired gets a full day's wage, you assume you will get more. And then, you don't. Do you grumble? Or are you pleased you received what was your due, a full day's wage for a full day's work?
Now imagine you're in the last group to be hired. You expect only a small portion of a full day's pay, but are shocked when you receive many times as much. Would you be more than satisfied, maybe even grateful, for the generosity of the landowner? Would you feel sorry for the grumbling first group of workers, and agree with them that the owner is acting unfairly? Would you offer them some of your pay? Would you take the money and run before the owner changes his mind?
Different viewpoints call forth different reactions.
The point is that God owes us nothing but gives us everything, with us getting more than we could ever deserve, especially in the gift of eternal life. Everything is a gift.
By the way, that star baseball player I mentioned at the beginning...was Ted Williams.
-Fr Sas, September 21 Homily
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A