Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 20:1-16)
To turn green with envy is to show a very sick complexion. It is used to indicate the sickness of soul that imbues people who resent the good fortune of others. They cannot understand that they have no right to what others possess. They would rather sulk in their lack of some desired good than be grateful for they have. Envy colors some of the laborers in Jesus’ parable today.
Reading this parable, one must remember that Jesus is not giving a framework for worker relations. Trying to justify paying workers the same wage for different amounts of work would be trying to square a circle. Jesus’ intention lies elsewhere. He wants to explain how God’s mercy extends to all people and will ultimately meet everyone’s needs. Those who worked the whole day receive a just wage. They may be content that the owner of the vineyard paid what was agreed upon. Those who work only the last hour but receive the same wage should be grateful that they have enough to feed their families. God dispenses graces freely, but He does not deny anyone his Holy Spirit.
We ought to be careful that envy does not overtake us. It happens when we think too highly of ourselves or too little of others. A much healthier tack in life is to cultivate gratitude. We should daily recall God’s goodness and strive to use our talents for the benefit of all.