Monsignor Yennock's Homily September 24, 2017 - It's Not Fair (Laborers in the Vineyard)

Sep 25, 2017

IT’S NOT FAIR (Laborers in the vineyard)

25TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR (Matt. 20:1-16)

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017

 

YOU THINK IT’S FAIR? WE CAME HERE AT 5 O’CLOCK THIS MORNING. WE WORKED ALL DAY IN THE HOT SUN. WE BROUGHT YOUR CROP IN BEFORE THE RAIN. THESE MEN WORKED FOR ONE HOUR.YOU GAVE THEM THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT YOU GAVE US. THEY WORKED FOR ONE HOUR. WE WORKED ALL DAY. IT’S NOT FAIR! WE DESERVE MORE. IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!

IT’S NOT FAIR! HOW MANY TIMES DO PARENTS AND TEACHERS HEAR THAT MANTRA: IT’S NOT FAIR? JOHN CAN STAY UP TILL 10 0’CLOCK BUT I HAVE TO GO TO BED AT 8:30. IT’S NOT FAIR. WHY DO I ALWAYS GET THE SMALLER HALF? WHY DON'T YOU YELL AT HER? WHY DOES MY TEAM ALWAYS LOSE? WHY CAN'T WE HAVE A PET GIRAFFE? IT’S NOT FAIR. THE GIRLS GET EVERYTHING IN THIS FAMILY, THE BOYS ARE SECOND CLASS CITIZENS. IT’S NOT FAIR.

SOMEHOW WE GOT THE IDEA IN CHILDHOOD THAT LIFE SHOULD BE FAIR. WE ALL CARRY AROUND WITH US A CONFUSED SENSE OF JUSTICE, A SENSE OF BEING WRONGED—OF ALWAYS GETTING THE SHORT END OF THE STICK. WE’RE ANGRY ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT’S NOT FAIR.

ONE OF THE REASONS WE HAVE THIS OBSESSION ABOUT FAIRNESS IS THAT WE ARE THINKING ABOUT JUSTICE WITHOUT MERCY. WE FAIL TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN EQUALITY AND EQUITY. FAIRNESS IS NOT ABOUT EVERYBODY GETTING THE SAME THING. FAIRNESS IS ABOUT EVERBODY GETTING WHAT HE NEEDS.

A JUNIOR HIGH TEACHER WHO REGULARLY HAD HER STUDENTS CHANGE THEIR SEATS ONCE A MONTH, HAD ONE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD IN HER CLASS. HIS SEAT REMAINED THE SAME BECAUSE HE DID NOT HANDLE CHANGE VERY WELL. SOME OF THE STUDENTS COMPLAINED: “IT’S NOT FAIR; WE HAVE TO MOVE; HE DOESN’T. IT’S NOT FAIR.”

THE TEACHER TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLAIN TO HER STUDENTS THAT FAIRNESS IS NOT ABOUT EVERYBODY GETTING THE SAME THING. FAIRNESS IS ABOUT EVERYBODY GETTING WHAT HE NEEDS. THIS SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENT GOT WHAT HE NEEDED AND THE REST OF THE STUDENTS ALSO GOT WHAT THEY NEEDED. AND THAT’S FAIR.

THE FULL-TIME LABORERS IN THE VINYARD WERE ANGRY WITH THE OWNER. THEY WANTED STRICT EQUALITY. EVERYBODY SHOULD GET PAID ACCORDING TO THE TIME HE PUT IN. THEY FELT THAT BECAUSE THE OWNER DIDN’T TREAT EVERYBODY THE SAME HE WAS UNFAIR.

ACTUALLY THE FULL-TIME LABORERS GOT EXACTLY WHAT THEY AGREED UPON BEFORE THEY STARTED TO WORK.SO HOW WAS THAT UNFAIR TREATMENT?

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW WE LOOK AT EQUALITY AND EQUITY. LISTEN TO THE WORDS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON:

“WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. THEY ARE ENDOWED BY OUR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS. THESE RIGHTS INCLUDE LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.”

THESE TRUTHS MAY BE SELF-EVIDENT IN THE HUMAN MIND BUT THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS EVIDENT IN THE WORLD AROUND US. THESE WORDS MUST BE UNDERSTOOD IN THEIR SPIRITUAL DIMENSION.

IF WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND IN WHAT SENSE WE ARE EQUAL WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE PROBLEMS WITH FAIRNESS.

ONE OF THE FACTS OF LIFE IS THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT EQUAL IN INTELLIGENCE, BEAUTY, WEALTH, SOCIAL SKILLS, ATHLETIC ABILITY, PHYSICAL HEALTH, FAMILY INFLUENCE, POTENTIAL EARNINGS, OR ACCESS TO THE BEST SCHOOLS.

ONE OF THE FACTS OF LIFE IS THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT TREATED EQUALLY. THE POOR AND INFIRM ARE LIVING WITNESSES OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT.  

UNTIL WE SORT IT ALL OUT IN OUR MINDS WISE PARENTS AND TEACHERS WOULD DO WELL TO PREPARE THEIR CHILDREN FOR LIFE BY TELLING THEM THAT: SORRY, BUT LIFE IS NOT FAIR.

JESUS IS BY NO MEANS IMPLYING THAT WE SHOULD SETTLE FOR THE UNFAIRNESS OF LIFE. HE IS REMINDING HIS DISCIPLES THAT LOVE AND MERCY ALSO ENTER INTO THE AREA OF WORK. IT IS NOT JUST A MATTER OF STRICT JUSTICE ALONE.

JESUS IS SAYING THAT THE OWNER OF THE VINEYARD WAS LOOKING AT THE PART-TIME WORKERS AS HUMAN BEINGS WHO WERE WORTH MORE THAN JUST THEIR ABILITY TO WORK. THESE WERE HUMAN BEINGS WHO HAD HUMAN NEEDS. THEIR FAMILIES WOULD NOT HAVE EATEN THAT NIGHT IF THEY DIDN’T GET PAID A LITTLE MORE.

THERE IS AN ELEMENT OF HUMAN TENDERNESS IN THE PARABLE OF THE WORKERS IN THE VINEYARD. WE CATCH A GLIMPSE OF THE INFINITE COMPASSION OF GOD IN HOW THE OWNER OF THE VINEYARD TREATED THE PART-TIME WORKERS.

NOTICE THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE LOVING ATTITUDE OF THE OWNER AND THE SELFISH ATTITUDE OF THE FULL-TIME WORKERS WHO WERE THINKING ONLY ABOUT WHAT IS FAIR.SOMETIMES WHAT IS FAIR IS A MATTER OF HUMAN JUDGEMENT. SOMETIMES LOVE AND MERCY EXCEED THE BOUNDARIES OF FAIRNESS.

 

JESUS MADE IT ABUNDANTLY CLEAR THAT WE SHOULD TREAT OTHERS AS WE WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED. HE MADE IT VERY CLEAR THAT WE SHOULD LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR AS WE LOVE OURSELVES.

TO BEGIN WITH WHY ARE WE EQUAL AT ALL? WE ARE EQUAL ONLY BECAUSE WE ARE THE IMAGE OF GOD. THE IMAGE OF GOD IN YOU IS EQUAL TO THE IMAGE OF GOD IN ME. THAT IS WHY WE ARE BOTH WORTHY OF RESPECT, LOVE AND MERCY.

WITHOUT GOD THERE IS NO BASIS FOR EQUALITY AND NO STANDARD FOR FAIRNESS. THERE IS ONLY CONFUSION AND CHAOS.

WITHOUT A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, THE BEAUTIFUL YOUNG PEOPLE COMING OUT OF OUR FAILING UNIVERSITIES ARE CONFUSED, ANGRY AND HOPELESS BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KNOW WHO THEY ARE, WHERE THEY CAME FROM OR WHERE THEY ARE GOING.

WITHOUT AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF GOD THIS OBSESSION WITH UNFAIRNESS WILL CONTINUE TO ERUPT IN PROTESTS AS THEY HAVE IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, IN FERGUSON, IN DALLAS IN CHICAGO, IN SEATLE, IN CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND AROUND THE WORLD.

WITHOUT GOD YOUNG PEOPLE WILL SETTLE FOR VIOLENCE AS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO THEIR DESIRE FOR FAIRNESS. YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THAT BETTER IF YOU READ THE HISTORY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND THE MARXIST REVOLUTIONS.

SOLUTIONS TO THE FAIRNESS PROBLEM WILL NOT BE FOUND IN ECONOMIC SYSTEMS, EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS OR POLITICAL SYSTEMS. THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR THAT.

ALL THESE SYSTEMS REQUIRE PEOPLE TO RUN THEM. THEY WILL BE AS JUST AS FAIR AND AS EFFECTIVE AS THE PEOPLE WHO RUN THEM.

THE REASON THAT LIFE IS NOT FAIR IS THAT EVERY MAN AND WOMAN IN THE WORLD IS TAINTED WITH ORIGINAL SIN. IF WE ARE HONEST WITH OURSELVES WE WILL ADMIT TO BEING SINFUL, FAITHLESS, SELFISH, GREEDY AND LUSTFUL PEOPLE, LIKE THE ONES WE SEE ON TELEVISION.

OUR ATTEMPTS TO MAKE LIFE FAIR WILL BE AS SUCCESSFUL AS OUR ABILITY TO DEVELOP CHARACTERS THAT MANIFEST FAITH, HUMILITY, JUSTICE, PURITY, CHARITY AND HOPE.

NO ECONOMIC SYSTEM, NO EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM, NO POLITICAL SYSTEM WILL BE FAIR UNLESS IT IS BUILT ON THE TRUE WORTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE GOLDEN RULE. 

THE VINYARD OWNER IN TODAY’S PARABLE SAYS TO THE COMPLAINERS: “ARE YOU ENVIOUS BECAUSE I AM GENEROUS?”

DO YOU CALL ME UNFAIR BECAUSE I ASK YOU TO CONSIDER THE NEEDS OF YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO HAVE BEEN WAITING IN LINE ALL DAY FOR A JOB SO THEY CAN FEED THEIR CHILDREN?  IS THAT THE WAY YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED?

AT THE END OF THIS PARABLE JESUS SAYS SOMETHING THAT THE WORLD WOULD REALLY CONSIDER UNFAIR. HE SAYS: “THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST.”           

THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST WORKS FOR THE JOY OF SERVING GOD AND HIS FELLOW-MEN. THAT IS WHY THE FIRST WILL BE LAST AND THE LAST WILL BE FIRST.