I was speaking with someone last week who was complaining about the number of migrants and refugees being allowed to settle in their country. They were saying that there was insufficient infrastructure, that housing costs were spiralling out of control and that their children will never be able to afford a house. I pointed out to him that many of the people working in our hospitals and in care homes were migrants and that we rely heavily on them to keep people safe and to help treat people who are ill or elderly. He would not be moved on this and still complained. I then pointed out to him that he was actually a migrant having moved to the country 30 years earlier. He started his next sentence with the word ‘but’ indicating that his migration was somehow different to those arriving nowadays.
There are similarities between my conversation and today’s Gospel. Those who had arrived earlier expected more than those who arrived later, and both are looking for fairness. However, the Gospel is more about how God addresses need. In the currency used back then, a denarius was the wage a labourer needed to maintain their family; so all of the labourers had a similar need. The landowner needed the work done in his vineyards and agreed to pay the daily rate.
The way mankind has set up our economies is a sort of tit for tat methodology. You have something I need, so you give me what I need, and I replace it with something you need. In this case the work gets done in the vineyard and the labourers get paid. However, we also look for equity. As humans we often believe that if we put in more effort than someone else then we should get more benefit than the other person. Jesus is telling us, yet again, that God’s ways are not [hu]man’s ways. If we come to the Lord late in life, we can inherit the same Kingdom as someone who has been a believer for 100 years; after all there is only one God and one Kingdom. Jesus gave a great example of this on the cross when He said the thief who was being executed beside Him, would be with Him in His Kingdom that very day.
Where in our lives do we think we deserve more than other people?
Is it when others seem to have better ‘luck’ than us in work? Maybe we don’t see what the bosses see. Is it when we see someone with a better house than us or a better car than us? But we don’t know what they have had to do to have those things or how much stress they may have caused themselves to get them. In the past I would often whinge that others seemed to be getting ahead of me at work, but when I look back now; I can see that they put in more effort and were prepared to risk; whereas I was too worried about failing to even apply for promotions.
The first reading today from Isaiah fits perfectly with the Gospel, where Isaiah relays the words of God “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways.” As he urges us all to change our ways and turn back to the Lord.
In the second reading we hear the torment St Paul puts himself through as he wrestles with his thoughts on whether he wants to be with the Lord now or whether he should carry on the mission God gave him; he concludes that he needs to leave these worries in the hands of God.
As Christians we are called to follow Christ. We are to treat people as Jesus did, we are not to worry about things we cannot change; we are to seek God’s graces in everything we do and when we see Christ face to face on the last day we hope to hear the words “welcome good and faithful servant, I have a room prepared for you in my father’s house.”
Today is the 109th World Day for Migrants and Refugees; in his message to mark this day1 Pope Francis reminds us that the Holy Family were refugees and that several times in Holy Scriptures we read about people fleeing famine or persecution to look for a place of safety for them and their families. In his briefing headed, ‘Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,’ Pope Francis states that it requires international efforts to allow people to have the opportunity to live and raise their families within their own lands so that they still have a choice whether they wish to stay where they are and prosper or to seek a better life elsewhere. He adds that as Christians we are expected to help those in need wherever they are, quoting Matthew 25:35-36, where Jesus uses the parable of separating the sheep and the goats to highlight how God will separate those who loved their neighbour from those who neglected that duty.
When I started, this reflection I highlighted a recent conversation on immigration. Where we live has many factors and involves countless decisions made by our ancestors down throughout the centuries, however, it may involve a decision that we have made ourselves. Regardless of how we got here, we still have a duty to look out for those who are vulnerable, may we see them as Jesus sees them and tend to their needs, just as He tends to our needs.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
CCC 210-211: God of mercy and piety
CCC 588-589: Jesus identifies his compassion to sinners with God’s
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those discerning a vocation.
- Those completing the Baptism Preparation Course this Sunday at St Bede’s
- Charlotte, Maximilian & Mia-Rose, who will be baptised at St Bede’s this Sunday.
- The success of the new Pastoral Area formation programme which starts on Monday 25th September.
- The success of the RCIA programme which starts on Wednesday 27thth September in St Bede’s Hall.