For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
As a college level English instructor, I am very often tempted to consider I am not paid truly what I am worth given the many hours of preparation apart from classroom teaching that I put in. Of course, I realize I am not alone in my plight as I observe many of my colleagues equally as burdened and haggered as I am. It’s not anyone’s fault, it is just the “nature of the beast.” Obviously no one ever reached millionare status through a teaching vocation. In terms of bearing our crosses, Some instructors travel lighter than others¸but overall we appear every morning dragging our loads of books and papers in wheeled carrying packs as if going to the airport rather than to teach class. I once met a fellow instructor in the elevator early one morning. He looked at me rather strangely as I pushed my teaching materials unto the elevator. “You’re really loaded down”, he said. I couldn’t help but notice a lightly packed canvas tote bag loosely hanging over his shoulder. That is all he carried. “Yes,” I moaned, “What do you teach?”
I was certain he’d say Physical education or basket weaving given his light load. “English,” he replied. Was he earning an equally light salary or was he simply not working as hard as I was ?I wondered about it for a long time.
In the parable of the landowner and the laborers, we find our Lord comparing the kingdomof heaven to a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. In our Lord’s time laborers had to wait all day in the marketplace until someone hired them for a day’s pay. The landowner in the parable went out twice in the morning and late in the afternoon,but he paid the late workers the same wage as the workers who had worked all day,so that the morning workers grumbeled. Naturally, in the parable the landowner is a metaphor for God. In today’s world many women and men after analyzing the amount of hours they invest in a job feel cheated by their particular employers and even overworked, hence some follow their entrpreneurial leanings and embark on business ventures. We do not live in a world of fair labor practices or ongoing advancement opportunities, in fact some jobs in which women are traditionally employed still do not pay salaries comparable to jobs in which men are traditionally employed, but God is more than an equal opportunity employer in the parable.
Regardless of our human effort or achievement, God invites us all into His vineyard, not that He needs to. It is simply an action of pure grace. The late Pope John Paul II wrote: “We are God’s vineyard, the people for whom Christ gave His whole self.”
Note once again the second group of laborers were hired late and paid the same wage. How unthinkable this seems to our limited minds, but God works in miraculous and unexpected ways. Perhaps the parable may help us understand that no matter how often we err or fail in our work or relationships or even how late in life we discover God’s merciful love, we can feel assured he will be waiting to welcome us with open arms. God is always inviting us to join Him in a deeper walk with Him regardless of where we are spiritually or how much effort we make to succeed. This raises some questions and asks us to take responsibility. Will we respond or will we remain spiritually empty grumbling about our plight like a school teacher over her piles of ungraded papers and still bankrupt of His divine presence?
Thomas Aquinas wrote: “The glory of man is to serve the creator. The creator does not need us, he is all great, but he delights in sharing with us His gifts and benefits.” Let us remember God works in mysterious, glorious ways and through divine grace we merely need to enter His presence whereever we are and regardless of how we feel. The Lord is inviting us, you and I into the Vineyard of His presence- there we will find wonderful graces, unmerited favor, unconditional love and all we have to do is open our hearts. All are welcome, saint and sinner alike. Someone once said sitting in the Lord’s presence is like getting “radiation therapy” and this is simply because we are willing to meet the Lord , His Divine presence emits healing rays into our souls. But how many times our trials and tribulations discourage us, we grumble and complain against each other and we forget our vows and promises to love one another- instead we get bogged down in envy, conflict, complaints. The Lord however, is unchangeable, immutable, sublime. We are the problem and we struggle to enter into a closer and deeper walk with Him because the temptation not to do so is so great- there is simply too much to complain about, we tell ourselves in the same deluding manner each time, just like the workers in the parable. But the Lord is always waiting- always going out to invite more of us in. St. Augustine identified man’s greatest achievement as seeking and finding God, but how can we find Him if we do not pray for the grace to find Him? How can we pray if we are not willing to carve out that one holy hour in which to let the Lord sit in repose on our hearts? Let us pray.
Lord Our God, grant us the grace to desire you with our whole heart,
That so desiring, we may seek and find you
And so finding you, we may love you
And loving you , we may hate all things which separate us from your Divine Presence.