Your Ways Are Not MY Ways

Weekly Missionary Reflection
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 20 September 2020

Isa. 55:6-9; Ps. 145:2-3,8-9,17-18; Phil. 1:20c-24,27a; Matt. 20:1-16a

Palestine at that time was uncomfortable. Apart from being colonized by Rome, unemployment was also high. Normally, in the midst of unemployment, there is a long list of job seekers. But surprisingly, this landowner came out since daybreak to hire workers. Not only once, but 5 times he “went out hiring” until 5 pm (vv. 1, 3, 5 and 6). The Kingdom of God is first of all about God seeking you and me to participate in His work in this world. As long as there are still humans who are not His ‘workers’ yet, He will continue to seek and invite, even to the last minute!

Only with the first group of workers he made an agreement on the one denarius wage. It is said that this amount was the Palestinian minimum wage at that time. With the second group of workers, wage was not specified nor discussed. It was only one promise: they will be paid whatever is “right”. Supposedly, the same payment is also for the third and fourth group of workers. This story creates a fundamental question: what is the fair and right wage? For the readers, the answer is clear: a wage based on the working hours. Less work, less paid. Up to now, achievement and length of employment have been the criterias for salary calculation. With the last came workers, the dialogue is quite long. The only one hour of working is highly emphasized. Readers are led to assume that these workers will receive the least wages, according to common fairness!

It’s time to pay the wages. The first group, who had worked for 12 hours, should be paid first. There would be no surprise or protest, if they had been paid first. They could leave in peace, because the wage of one denarius had been agreed earlier. But the landowner did the other way around: first he paid to the workers who came the last! He seemed to do this intentionally, in order to make the first workers see the wage of the workers who came last.

When the first group saw that the last group be paid one denarius, they certainly expected to be paid more. Then came the surprise: all workers were paid equally, no matter how long they had worked! The readers will definitely pay their sympathy to the workers who had worked all day long. Focusing on “reward”, human beings like to make calculation and compare. But God is using the logic of grace. He does not make calculation based on achievement or length of working. In His mercy, God offers salvation to all human beings. Those who repent the last are given the same grace as His long followers or His Church officials.

As a human being, I am easily tempted to calculate the hours and services. It is very easy for me to be proud of my service in the church, to feel more superior than the newly baptized and repent. Such calculation of service and reward will make me small-minded, less appreciative, and do not rejoice in God’s grace to others, especially the new believers. LORD’s admonition through His prophet in today’s first reading is absolutely relevant: “Your ways are not My ways” (Isa. 55: 8).

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:
Respecting natural resources: May all natural resources of the earth be not greedily drained and stolen, but be fairly shared with gratitude and appreciation to the nature. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention:
Creating clean air: In participating in creating the clean air, may Catholic families initiate to make simple contribution by greening each surrounding. We pray…

Special Intention:
We present our willpower to voice our effort of justice to The Word Himself. We pray… …

Amen

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