Twenty Fifth Sunday

During the great depression, working conditions were very difficult. The men had no contract. They would go to the factory in the morning, and they would hope to get work. If they were lucky, they would be hired, and they would receive a full day’s salary at the end of the day. Sometimes they would not be hired, and they would go home to their wife and family penniless. This was very humiliating, degrading and very sad. If we just glance back at our own history in Ireland, we all know of people and even family and relatives of ours, who have had to travel to England or to America to get work and send home some money to the family. A lot of these people never returned to Ireland. That is why Ireland has a great diaspora, you will find Irish people all over the world. In Jesus’s time things were like this also. Workers went to the square and they waited to be called to work in the vineyard. The lucky ones got work and got payed. But in today’s gospel, something different happens. Some men are called to work at the end of the day at the eleventh hour. At the end of the day they expected to receive very little; just one hour’s pay. Imagine their surprise and joy when they received a full day’s pay. They must have looked at the master and wondered who is he, why is he so kind and generous. But no everyone is happy. The lucky ones who could work all day are now envious, they forgot that they were the lucky ones. Then Jesus asks them this beautiful question: ‘Friend, are you envious that I am good’. Once again, we have two lessons here.
1. The first one, is the goodness and kindness of Jesus; he has a special place in his heart for the unlucky one, the one who has made mistakes, the one who has lost his way, the one who got off to a bad start. In my personal life I have often felt like this. But Jesus never gives up. No matter how hopeless a situation may be, no matter how grave the mistake was, Jesus is always there with a smile and a helping hand to restore my dignity and send me to work in his vineyard. St. Augustine left it very late in life to convert. He was having a great time and he felt the call of God to convert and he would often say, not yet. When he eventually found Jesus, he wrote these beautiful words, ‘late have I loved you, o beauty ever ancient and ever new, late have I loved you, late have I loved you’. Let us grasp the loving hand of Jesus, let us go to work in his vineyard, and whenever he is good to someone else let us be happy for them to.
2. Let us reach out the hand of goodness and kindness to those who are struggling especially during these difficult times. Sometimes we are caught up in our own little worlds and plans. What a wonderful example we see in our health care workers and volunteers who have given of their time and kindness to help us all to get through these challenging times. Hopefully we will all pull together and help each other get through these challenging times.