Fr. Americo Santos

Homily: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 24, 2023

It is difficult to understand how the love, generosity and justice work for our God. He is too good, too generous, too merciful, and very fair with all of us without distinction.

First, I would like to explain to you some aspects of employment practice in Palestine at the time of Jesus. Labour was hard, unstable and not well paid, they did not have many rights. There was a lot of unemployment and no unemployment benefit. One denarius was the rate for a day’s basic work, and it would support a man and his family for a day. Each evening, they expected to receive their payment as an agreement. Not earning that denarius was a high risk for hunger for a family that day or the next. This parable asks us to reflect on how work policies, salaries, and work were and how better we are today in society.

What we see at the beginning of the parable is a landowner acting conventionally and also justly. All workers expected and received one denarius, so why did they complain? They ended up unhappy and lost much of the satisfaction and happiness that an honest working day provides.

The landowner is the reason for employing some people for less time and paying them the same amount. The first ones think they should be paid more. The landowner doing this was not the main problem. The problem was the perspective and attitude they had in regard to it. They compared themselves with those who had done less; they are envious of them; they were resentful and went away with less joy than those who worked less. This is as Jesus has said, the last will be first, and the first last.

They could not appreciate the landowner’s initiative to ensure that more people got what they needed to live for a day. God’s justice is giving each person their due and what they need to live. There is no real question about the landowner being unjust to those workers all day. Rather, he has been just to the others, indeed more than just: he has been generous and merciful. God wants as many people as possible to experience his generosity in this world. Therefore, He is the landowner of the parable, who frequently goes to the market to find workers. In this parable, Jesus talks about justice, generosity, and mercy in our relationship with Him and how we should see His decisions regarding others.

Today, our Lord invites us to recognize all we have received from Him as well as to be grateful to Him for all we have in our life. We should avoid envy and resentment towards God for giving gifts to others. We are called to rejoice in God’s goodness when we see Him extending his gifts and mercy to others because they will receive what we already have. To do so is to love God and our neighbor. Remember that what really matters for us is that everyone can experience God’s generosity, and that one day all people can reach heaven. Let's remember Jesus' words about heaven having many dwelling places for everyone there (Jn14,2) and be glad for God's generosity towards us and try to spread it to others. Amen.

May God bless you now and forever.

 Fr Americo Santos.