Just as in last Sunday's Gospel, the servant forgiven his whole astronomical debt could not see to forgive the small debt of his fellow servant, so with today's pericope, the workers who were hired at the first hour at the current just wage could not rejoice at the generosity of the landowner who desired that all his workers go home with enough to support their families no matter how long they worked that day. There is, unfortunately, plenty of jealousy and envy even among Christians in this life - in our families, our work places and religious communities.
The Latin Bible that Saint Benedict used at verse 11 of our gospel passage reads: “and receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, the paterfamilias.” Murmured. Grumbled. I believe that these few words of verse 11 struck close to the heart of our father St. Benedict. In chapter 34 of the Rule, for example, he cautions the monks against the evil of murmuring or grumbling, when the Abbot or a delegated superior, acting like a paterfamilias, shows some special kindness to a brother in his weakness - whether his weakness be a physical or moral one. In chapter 23 of the Rule, Benedict legislates that if the evil of murmuring persists, it will eventually lead to the guilty monk's being excommunicated. This punishment fits the crime, since the monk himself has already excommunicated his own self from the body of Christ that is the community by his murmuring.
In commenting on today's parable, Pope Saint Gregory the Great echoes Our Lord's call to service with these words of wisdom: “Let everyone reflect on what he is doing, and consider whether he is laboring in the Lord's vineyard. No one who seeks his own will in this life has come to the Lord's vineyard. The Lord's laborers are those who think not of their own concerns but of the Lord's, who live lives of devotion and charitable zeal, who are intent on gaining souls, who hasten to bring others with them to life.” He concludes this thoughts with his interpretation of the different hours that the laborers were called: “Even though you have not been willing to live for God in your childhood and young adulthood, at least come to your right mind in the final time of your life. Come to the ways of life, even though you will not labor much now, and are late.”
We all know that it is never too late to stop murmuring, to stop obsessing about ourselves, and to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind and our whole strength, and our neighbor as ourself. Living this way in Christ with the strengthening graces of the Eucharist, God's thoughts become our thoughts and God's ways our ways.
Excerpts from Father Luke's Sunday homily.