The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
September 24, 2023 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 20:1-16
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
I grew up in a family where there were four children. Three daughters and one son. That was me. We were a family of limited resources and our parents tried not to favor one of us over another. My mother was especially adept in matters where being fair was at play. Take for example desserts.
One of our favorites was chocolate pudding – the kind you cook and pour into equal portions in bowls. Naturally, my sisters and I each wanted the largest portion. If my mom poured a portion into each bowl, there was a good chance that one would have a bit more pudding than others. Thus, a stampede would ensue to get that larger portion.
One day she came up with a new plan. We sibs would take turns in filling the bowls. But then her parental brilliance showed through because she said that once the bowls were filled, the person who originally filled them would pick last! From then on, the bowls were exactly the same. Fairness and justice prevailed.
Which brings us to today’s gospel. The gospel that seems to support unfairness. Those who worked a full day were paid the same wage as those who worked but one hour. I personally find it a real challenge to accept or understand the parable. Like so many of the parables of Jesus, they test our thinking and encourage our analysis.
So, what follows is one possible explanation. The landowner Jesus describes, I believe, is God. Those who study personal religious development say that for many their first concept of God is like a parent. As the years pass, more refined images of God enter our personal belief system. We think of God as a force, a power, a benevolent presence, a creator of not just us personally but as the one who from nothing creates everything! Our image of God seems to expand day by day.
As we progress through life, our early simplistic views of God are set aside for more complex thoughts. I recited the Creed each Sunday, and I even devoted my professional life to the study of theology. But now, well along my earthy journey, I have to agree with one of the greatest theologians ever, St. Thomas Aquinas, who said toward the end of his life that all his writings were but straw. God is basically a great mystery but one who loves us now and forever. Questions about God will remain, even increase. This may indicate we are getting closer to the truth. Reflecting on today’s gospel helps.
David M. Thomas, PhD