Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 20:1-16)

Although it sounds trendy, we might think of the Kingdom of God as a complex of niche markets. Where most enterprises appeal to a basic clientele, who must take or leave the product depending on their benefit or loss, the Kingdom has an assortment of attractions to accommodate almost everyone. We get a glimpse of how the system works in the gospel today.

Jesus tells the parable of the landowner who offers jobs to different workers at different hours of the day. Rather than pay each according to the work done, he gives all the same wage, which is just enough to support his family for one day. In this way no one is left in need, and no one should gripe since all received what was agreed upon in the landowner’s respective offer.

The system seems unfair since it does not compensate according to the rule: equal pay for equal work. But if we think of airline pricing, a good example of niche marketing, it may make more sense. Latecomers are charged more for the same ride because their need is more urgent. Similarly those who like lots of leg room have to pay a premium for their comfort. It is important to remember, however, that we are given the parable not to justify God’s ways but to marvel at God’s mercy. Jesus is telling us that God’s Providence takes care of everyone.