Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Judges 9:6-15; Matthew 20:1-16)
In An Introduction to Christianity Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, writes of the “law of excess or superfluity.” This evangelical principle claims that Jesus’ righteousness goes far beyond what is necessary for the salvation of fallen humanity. The term expresses the infinite graciousness of the Kingdom of God which Jesus came to the world to initiate. In today’s gospel parable he gives a verbal illustration of this graciousness.
The parable is one of the most astounding in the four gospels. Laborers are all paid the same amount despite the fact that some worked all day and others merely an hour. It does not seem that the latter deserve as much as the former. But the landowner is merciful. He recognizes every man’s need to support his family and will graciously pay all workers accordingly.
The story should make us both grateful and charitable. We – all of us -- are those latecomers who have not worked to receive the salvation Jesus offers. We all sin but find ourselves being perfected through the sacraments. This should make us grateful. We are also to imitate God’s mercy by patiently teaching others how to live virtuously.