Das Kapital vs Das Evangelium
Homily for Septuagesima Sunday 2018
Father Richard Sorfleet
Saint John the Evangelist Eucharistic Catholic Church Mission, Renfrew ON
The parable of the vineyard owner and his hired help is always a difficult one for us to come to terms with given our views of social justice and fair labor practices, and the natural instinct of expecting more pay and benefits for hrs worked and last in the door/first out. However we are not dealing with the principles outlined in Marx's Das Kapital but Christ's Das Evangelium.
On the surface all had been offered and as a key point, accepted one denarius as their pay for the day's work, and all in the end took the money when paid off by the steward when quitting time came.
The vineyard was not a cooperative where workers and management sit down a collectively set the product quotas and employees' pay and benefits. Right from the outset it is made clear who is the owner and who are the workers, and who themselves were given the opportunity to accept or decline the job offer.
And that brings one to the opening of the parable itself even before the owner sets off to the city square to offer a day's work to the men for hire and having been to the MidEast this is still a daily practice and means of employment and livelihood for many.
Matthew beings with 'the kingdom of God is like...'
Everything else that follows must be seen in that context, not in collective ageeements and minimum wages measured by the hour.
We are given the opportunity to work in the Lord's vineyard. We can accept or decline that offer. The terms are very simple to understand as was that of the one denarius. However, the kingdom into which we enter is a place where all are equal and equally treated. There is no last in the door/first out, and God's grace is for all in equal measure.
We still see God's Kingdom and Heaven in terms of a celestial reflection of the medieval world and its hierarchy of those of the elite that rule and fight, those that pray and the vast rest of us that work; a reflection without all the horse manure, cold, hunger and early death.
True, as the conclusion to the preface to the eucharistc prayer reads
and so with angels and archangels, with thrones and dominions, and with all the hosts and powers of heaven
there is a heavenly host but we are not part of that,
rather we are the great multitude [Rev 6: 9, 19: 6] invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb; the vineyard's one denarius everlasting life to stand as part of that great assemblage to rejoice and exult [Rev 19: 7]
One of the workers complained about bearing the burden of the day and the sorching heat
Again in Revelation7: 16- 17
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes
He didn't get the point of the parable he had just experienced, and after hearing it the question is do we?
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