For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace;and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’
But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
There was record-breaking attendance that sultry Midwestern summer night. Anticipating a crowd I arrived about ninety minutes early, astonished to see the Great Lawn already half full. Picking my way between picnic blankets and lawn chairs, I claimed a space – not too greedy, but enough to provide some elbow room for others to maneuver once my companion arrived. As the start drew near, people continued to fill in every available space. First one couple sat in the buffer zone in front of us, but there was still place for people to walk between our groups. Later we re-arranged to accommodate another couple who edged in behind us on a small blanket. Then, with less than five minutes to go, two women arrived and, with a little nod of apology, proceeded to unfold their fluorescent orange Illinois Fighting Illini fan chairs in the tiny space that was left!
I had now been out in the heat and humidity for almost two hours. “Who do they think they are?” was going through my head with exasperation. Then I recalled with chagrin, “Are you envious because I am generous?” In a brief colloquy with Jesus, I found some breathing space. He brushed away my annoyance about perceived loss, and then helped me remember that he was free to use the lawn as he wished. With humor he moved me to gratitude for not being rude to the ladies, for the beauty of the evening, and for the convivial atmosphere that prevailed among the diverse crowd as we all settled in to enjoy the show.
What are you being asked to share generously today?
—Jenene Francis is the provincial assistant for pastoral ministries for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.
Love consists in a mutual sharing of goods. For example, the lover gives and shares with the beloved what he possesses, or something of that which he has or is able to give. And vice versa, the beloved shares with the lover. Hence, if one has knowledge, she shares it with the one who does not possess it; and so also if one has honors, or riches. Thus, one always gives to the other.
—Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, #231