Lessons from the parable of the vineyard workers

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Homily By Fr. Roy Cimagala

We can learn a number of precious lessons from the parable of the vineyard workers. (cfr. Mt 20,1-16) One is that we should always be thankful to God for everything that he has given us. We should just make good use of them. We should avoid reproaching God for what may appear to us as some form of unfairness when we notice that others may have better things than what we have.

Another lesson is to avoid comparing ourselves with others if by doing so we would just end up getting jealous or envious. If we have to compare ourselves with others, it should lead us to be edified and inspired by them when they appear to be better off than us, or to edify and inspire others when we have some advantage over them.

Still another lesson is to avoid feeling entitled to some privileges and extra reward when we appear that we have been doing the greater part of any work or development. We should just be contented with what God would give us, or what others may legitimately give us. We should avoid chasing after privileges and rewards which is a clear sign of pride and vanity.

Yes, we have to be thankful to God for everything that we have at any given moment. This should never be neglected even as we try to resolve as fairly as possible whatever cases of injustice, unfairness, inequality and discrimination we may have in this life due to human weakness, limitations and sins. Being thankful assures us of keeping our union with God even as we go about fixing our human problems.

We also have to be wary of the danger of envy and jealousy. It’s that uneasy feeling that others are better than us in some respects. We can even be envious of others who we know are doing evil and yet appear to be having a better time than what we are having. Or it can come as a result of some personal frustrations, defeats and losses while others appear to only have successes and victories.

Many biblical passages refer to it. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3,16) “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4,2)

Still more: “For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Cor 3,3) “Jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.” (Proverbs 6,34) Envy truly corrupts us. It inflicts great damage on our humanity.

Envy is usually accompanied by sadness and sometimes by hatred, anger, bad thoughts and impulses of revenge, fault-finding and bitter zeal. It comes as a result of comparing oneself with others without God in the middle. The standards used are highly subjective and restrictive.

We should also be wary of feeling entitled due to what we may have done or accomplished. We may be quite privileged in life because of the many gifts and other endowments God and others may have given us, but we should never feel entitled to anything. Instead, our attitude toward these privileges should be one of willingness to serve more, doing a lot of good while passing unnoticed, and all for the glory of God and for the good of all.