Friday, September 19, 2014

Lectio divina for Sunday's Gospel

Workers of the Last Hour
Lectio Divina: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
By Monsignor Francesco Follo
PARIS, September 19, 2014 ( - Roman Rite - XXV Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A - September 21, 2014
Is 55.6 to 9; Ps 146; 1,20c Fil-27a; Mt 20,1-16.

Ambrosian Rite - Fourth Sunday after the martyrdom of St. John the Precursor
Is 63,19b-64.10; Ps 76; Heb 9.1 to 12; Jn 6.24 to 35

1) An apparent injustice. 
With the parable of the owner of the vineyard, who at different times of the day calls laborers to work for him and in the evening gives to everyone the same wage, a denarius1, provoking protests from those called at the first hour, Jesus helps us to enter into the logic of God whose way of thinking is very different from ours: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways, says the Lord "(Isaiah 55: 8)2. 

1 A denarius was enough to provide living for a day to a family. The master does not think only for the workers, but also to those they have at home. He knows that if a man does not work the all day, the whole family will not eat. 
If those who have worked only one hour received as much as had been agreed with the workers that has been working since six in the morning, then the latter who worked eleven hours more and have borne the burden and heat of the day, expect at least three times as much. When they see that they are paid only the agreed amount of money they vent their disappointment and their discontent, because they were certain "that they would receive more" (Mt 20:10), They consider the master unfair.
The Gospel says that they murmur (Matthew 20:11): " You treat those who have worked only one hour in the same way you treat us? ". Take note that they mutter; they do not tell their dissatisfaction openly, they speak behind him. This is the way of those who whispers, who are "behind the backs" or have always something to say.
Jesus takes aim at the foreman who is yelling and complaining more and replays, "Friend, (letterarly." My dear colleague “using a tone of good-natured scolding) is that not what we had agreed? “"Yes." "Do I take something off of what was said?", "No". "So, what do you want from me? Take what is yours and go. Am I not allowed to do what I want of what is mine? ". Was the owner unfair or has he been generous? The owner is not really unfair (he gave what had been agreed) but he is generous. The master does not take anything from anyone.
2 This is the first reading of today Mass. The Gospel tells the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.
3 The hours of the day, called in the ancient way (third, sixth, ninth ..., make us think about the prayer of the Church spread throughout the day. This too is a daily call. This too is the work required and capable of tilling the vineyard so that the fruits mature.
This parable is comforting because it assures us from the beginning that humanity is the vine, the passion, the preferred field of God, who care for it and goes out five times3 to look for workers.
The critical point of the story is at the time of pay: God, the Lord of the vineyard begins from the workers of the eleventh hour and to those who have worked only one hour gives a salary equal to that agreed with those who had sweated for twelve hours.
The workers who had been hired first, instead of being happy to have worked for a good Master, feel sorry for this apparent injustice that, on the contrary, is a more generous justice. In fact, He
gives everyone what he has promised, but recognizes for those who arrived last but have worked with the same hope, the right to enjoy like the others of that Kingdom for which they have worked until sunset. 
If the first lesson of the parable is to remember that God deals with care with the humanity represented by the vineyard, the second is that being called to this collaboration is already the first reward. To be able to work in the vineyard of the Lord, to put oneself at his service and to collaborate with his work, is in itself an inestimable reward which repays the toil. This teaching is understood only by those who love the Lord and His kingdom. Those who work only for their interest will never realize the value of this great treasure.
The money mentioned in the parable is not so much the money that allows us to live for a day, it is God who gives himself for us to live in the everlasting day. God cannot give less than all. He acts with justice and charity that only we humans consider two different realities. We carefully distinguish a rightful act from an act of love. Right for us is "what is due to another" while merciful is what is given because of goodness. The first seems to exclude the other. But God is not so: in him justice and charity coincide; there is no right action that is not also an act of mercy and forgiveness and, at the same time, there is no merciful action that is not perfectly just.
God’s thinking is really far from our logical one. It is really different from ours the acting way of God, who invites us to understand and observe the true spirit of the law to give it fulfillment in loving those in need. "Fulfillment of the law is love," writes St. Paul (Rom 13:10).Our justice will be more perfect as it is animated by love for God and neighbor. 

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