Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
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As a member of Franciscan Mission Service, I’ve been learning a lot about Catholic Social Teaching, or CST. One of the seven principles of CST concerns the dignity and rights of workers. Work is made for humans, not the other way around. We can see this clearly in this Sunday’s Gospel, and the landowner compensates each laborer equally, with the daily wage. Whether a laborer worked all day or only one hour, they were all able to provide for their families that day. While this isn’t always fair or feasible in reality, this parable shows how God meets our needs and provides for us. He treats us with respect, has a purpose for all of us, and keeps his promises. From this Sunday’s Gospel, we can learn to treat our employees and co-workers, and those who serve us with respect, seeing them with as God sees them and upholding their human dignity.
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