Last Sunday, Deacon Lyn really "Hit one out of the park" with this homily from one of our least favorite parables. So many parishioners requested a copy, that I decided to reprint it here. See the full text below:
In some corporations comparing salaries is forbidden. Usually the reasons for this are not spelled out. But the company, always eager to help, gives workers a comeback in case a fellow worker might ask, “By the way, what do you make?” The loyal employee is to respond, “That’s for me, the boss, and my tax person to know.” Comparing salaries in considered volatile activity Chances are it will lead to charges of unfairness, a sense of being discriminated against, a decline in employee morale, & as the Gospel indicates, an epidemic of grumbling. Even if the employer comes clean & discloses the reason for the discrepancy in wages, the grumbling will persist. No reason is good enough when we sense someone got away with something & we did not.
This is why this parable of workers in the vineyard is arguably the most disliked parable of the Gospels. Its unfairness is so overwhelming it edges out that other Gospel about a welcome & feast for son who squandered the inheritance. (I have to preach about it.) Although, the argument of the owner of the vineyard is quite clear, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” it makes no headway against our outrage. We instinctively feel a mistake has been made. There is a deep sense of unfairness, if we are honest with ourselves, when the last are paid the same as the first. Right??? And we, who are always quick to feel offended, identify with the weary, heat-beaten first laborers.
This feeling of unfairness springs from a well-constructed mental audio in the mind. Its basic message is: “If someone gets what I am getting but hasn’t put in as much work as I have, I am cheated. Is there any other way to see this?” Most of us have this audio running continually. This makes us, in the language of the parable, grumble-ready. The truth of this audio seems obvious because it confirms our fundamental stance. We are the center of the universe, & we evaluate everything that happens from the point of view of our comparative well-being. If it protects or promotes us, we praise it. If it makes us vulnerable or demotes us, we, don’t put up with it, we moan & complain. “You have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” Outrageous!!!
But if the story knows our egocentricity, it also knows another possibility. It suggests seeing things from God’s point of view. But this is a real stretch. In fact, it is difficult to even entertain this possibility because of our ego being so entrenched. When we move outside it, we are in such a strange world that we immediately reject it. But let’s venture out of our identification with the first-hired laborers & try to see it as the landowner (God, the Lord of the Vineyard) how God sees it.
From the Lord of the Vineyard’s point of view, what really matters is not what you get but that you work in the vineyard. The real problem is idleness in the market place. Standing around waiting. But the Lord of the Vineyard will have none of it. The owner visits the marketplace often & sends everyone to the vineyard. The owner is shameless in the diversity of ways the calls are sent to the people. What is paramount is the work.
Once in the vineyard we are in the owner’s domain, & the rules change because of who the owner is (GOD) & what God is about. The work itself is the reward. The joy is in the contribution, in bearing fruit by joining with the Lord of the Vineyard in the creation of the world. A world where there is peace, unconditional love, and nonviolence. Remember, we are now in a consciousness called the Kingdom of Heaven & not in a consciousness that could be called, “Fear of Not Getting What we Deserve.” We do not need to worry & look out for ourselves, for the One for whom we work knows what we need & is willing to supply it. We no longer live in the envious world of comparison, but in abundant world of God’s goodness. In this world God’s goodness gives us a good eye. This eye connects our soul to the expansive world of Divine Spirit. The soul, in turn, works and flows responding to grace, each effort releasing grace. The Lord of the Vineyard has no choice. God has to give us all that God has. Which, of course, is the one day’s wages.