TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY
Too Clever at Dealing with Others
First Reading (Is 55:6-9) :
God's ways are not the human ways.
Second Reading (Phil 1:20-25,27): Christ will be exalted whether by
life or by death.
Gospel (Mt 20:1-16): The parable of hiring laborers for the vineyard
The Story of the Forgetful c(1)
“Too Clever at Dealing with Others.” (2)
Today, Jesus told us the parable of a vineyard
owner and his workers.
In the parable, the Kingdom of heaven is like this: a man went out
early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed with
the workers that they would receive a denarius for the day. Later the
day, at about the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours, he did likewise.
That evening, the vineyard owner paid the workers their wages, starting
with those whom he hired last. They each received a denarius. When it
came to the first batch of workers, they supposed that they would receive
more since they started working the earliest. On receiving only a denarius
as they had agreed, they felt that they were unfairly treated and murmured
against the vineyard owner.
The owner said to one of them, “Friend,
I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily
wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last
the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with
what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
Using this parable, Jesus presented to us a benevolent, generous God,
who is never meticulous about calculating gains and losses.
Chapter 55 of Isaiah quoted what God said about Himself, ‘For
my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. For as
the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your
ways.’ (Is 55:8)
Many a time, we act as if we were God's secretary or butler. We try
to manage His affair and we even ‘teach’ Him what to do in our prayers.
For instance, in the Prayers of the Faithful, some pray for their society,
“ God, bless our society. Help it grow prosperously and may it remain
stable so that all can live and work contentedly. Don't let bosses exploit
their employees. Make employees work conscientiously .” Our prayers
in fact contain chains of things that are desirable in our eyes and
we simply ask God to fulfill our wishes. This is exactly the converse
of ‘Your will be done on earth’.
We forget that God loves us more than we love ourselves and that He
knows us better than we know ourselves. St.Augustin made a Latin remark:
Deus est intimior intimo meo. His celebrated remark means that God (deus)
is closer to us (intimior) than we are to our internal organs (intimo).
God is omniscient. He knows our whole life and the needs of the society.
He understands our past and foresees our future. With Him overseeing
everything in the universe, we can be sure that only He knows what is
best for us.
In Lie Tze, there is a story called “The Forgetful Hua Zi”. Hua Zi
lived in the country of Sung. He was suffering from the illness of forgetfulness.
Once he left home, he forgot to return home. He only remembered the
present and forgot the past. He often asked, “Where am I now?” People
would tell him, “This is your home.” Sometimes, he would tell his wife,
“You're so pretty! What is your name?” She would say, “I am your wife!”
Hua Zi's wife was very worried and sad about Hua Zi's illness. She
made a promise that whoever could cure Hua Zi's forgetfulness; she would
give him half of their wealth.
A man tried all sorts of methods to cure Hua Zi and finally succeeded
in curing Hua Zi. However, Hua Zi became very excitable and often lost
his temper. He drove his wife away from home and beat his son for no
People asked him, “You're cured but how comes that you have changed
so much?” Hua Zi said, “When I could not remember a thing, I felt calm
and at peace. The sky and the world could disappear for all I cared.
I didn't have a worry in my heart. But now I've got back my memory,
my consciousness of life and death, gain and loss, joy and anger, happiness
and sorrow has all returned. I cannot forget, even for a short time,
these heavy burdens of life. I feel so very vexed.
Why are there so many conflicts on earth? It is because we have excellent
memories. Why were some workers in the vineyard so unhappy? This was
just because they remembered all too well that they started the day's
work earlier than the other workers. They thought that the late- comers
did not deserve a pay as high as one dollar because only they ‘had toiled
all day’. To them, it was unjust if all were given the same treatment.
Our hearts are full of what is right and wrong and all sorts of disputes
because we are too preoccupied with plotting and calculating. Our calculations
are most skilful, most complete and most thorough. They fit perfectly
Cao Xueqin's description: “Too Clever at Dealing with Others.”(2)
However, the result of our clever stratagem is, unfortunately,
“Mistakenly causing our lover's life”. The result does not only make
us sad, it also makes other people feel sorry.
God is so bounteous that He is generous to all creatures alike. God
does not want to go to the bother to calculate if we are worthy of His
We pray that God will grant us benevolence and generosity like that
of His to handle the worldly affairs that we encounter.