“My friend, I am not cheating you…
Are you envious because I am generous?”
20 September 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
As Jesus continues to lead his disciples toward Jerusalem, he offers the parable of the workers in the vineyard to emphasize God’s generosity and how we respond to his benevolence. At the start of the workday, a group of laborers confirms with the landowner to complete a full day of hard labor for an agreed-upon fair wage. During different points throughout the day, the first team of workers notices others arriving, asking for, and securing work with the same landowner. Then, at just one hour before the end of the workday, a new group of laborers strike an agreement with the landowner and begin to work in the vineyard.
The first team of laborers –who are about to complete the last hour of what was most likely a 12-hour day– assume that the latest group of workers will earn wages proportionate to their time spent, about one-twelfth their own earnings. All involved are delighted with these circumstances, but their joyful outlook quickly scatters as each laborer, regardless of when they began, receives a single denarius for their wage. They express their frustration with the vineyard owner with this outcome. How could he not see how these equal payments are unfair, certainly by human standards? Often in situations like these, discord and division increase due to our assumptions and opinions. If you’re like me, you may wonder why some waited to look for work until the day was almost over. Clearly, they must be lazy.
This line of assumptive thinking is an internal trap that Jesus aims for his disciples to recognize. We are called to examine our own approach when we perceive personal injustice. We may ask ourselves, do we ramp up our frustration and anger and allow the perceived unfairness to disrupt our happiness, and then share that disruption with the community? Typically this response is much easier to observe in others. Unfortunately, this is easily seen in online videos of adults having temper tantrums (a dangerous rabbit hole that I do not recommend going down). How often, though, do we recognize and take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings?
In today’s Gospel, the landowner’s response firmly places the responsibility for the laborer’s reaction on the laborer, helping to illuminate their envy. The truth is, the first group of laborers had received a fair wage, and the one they initially expected. Despite their slighted perspective, the landowner refers to each as “friend,” not allowing their aggressive response to damage their relationship. In fact, the landowner’s approach is further extraordinary, considering typically, the landowner didn’t even directly distribute wages; this was a foreman’s job.
The landowner’s final question, “Are you envious because I am generous?” is essential to confront in our lives. Envy is slightly different from jealousy. Jealousy desires what another person has, figurative or literal; envy is the displeasure when others experience good fortune.
As we face an election year, bringing this generosity of thought into the public forum is essential. As we engage family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers with our perspectives, we ought to be careful of the presumptions we make in person or online. We ought not to get stuck in the trap of comparing ourselves or getting frustrated at others’ good fortune outside our control. I recently signed the pledge on civilizeit.org. Those who pledge are asked to embrace Civility, Clarity, and Compassion. I appreciate the definitions of those attributes shared on “Civilize It,” and they are worth sharing.
Civility: recognize the dignity of others and treat them with respect.
Clarity: rooting our political viewpoints in the Gospel through prayer, study, conversation, and speaking.
Compassion: presume others’ good intentions and listen to their stories with empathy and a desire to understand.
In that same line of understanding, I encourage you to read the updated document, developed by a committee of the US Catholic Bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States.” These resources will help us model our responses to reflect our Lord’s generosity and will do much to further his kingdom on earth!
Some of the key considerations for this week.
▪ “Sign up” for Mass for September 26 and 27. Register here.
▪ This Sunday marks Catechetical Sunday, which is dedicated each year to highlight and pray for our parish catechists– teachers of the faith. This Year’s theme, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,” highlights our Church’s immense treasure in the Eucharist, a sacrament we are called to share with the world. Let us continue to educate each other and recognize this beautiful gift and keep all of OLPH’s catechists in prayer. I am grateful to these faithful servants for sharing their talents both in overt and in subtle ways.
Let us also keep in prayer all our teachers at public and private schools, including Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Trinity School–our neighboring Catholic School, and Lamb of God School, our adjacent Christian School. These teachers are called to share the Gospel in both values and respect. We also lift parents, grandparents, and godparents in prayer, for they indeed are the first teachers of the faith and often the most impactful in our children’s lives.
Be sure to check out the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Evangelization & Catechesis site for some resources and great articles. “Partnering with Parents to Nurture Family Faith – Insights from Research” by John Roberto-, I hope, encourages families in the simple acts and rhythms of faith that have such an immense impact.
▪ I invite our parishioners to connect with The Chosen Series & Study, which promises to be an exciting opportunity to enter in-prayer starting October 4th. Thanks to the Holy Spirit for inspiring our own parishioner Kristina Romero to explore this “theatrical” series and write this 8-week study perfect for individuals and small groups. For those who are unfamiliar, the series aims to follow Christ’s early disciples and the impact Jesus had on their lives. For life-long learners and those who are simply a bit curious, this series will help us embrace our discipleship pathway. Sign-up for this wonderful opportunity; our participation is a gift for yourself, for your family, for this community, is a gift to the Lord!
▪ This week, the parish received the “Silver Ladle” for our donations supporting Bridges to Housing Stability. With the mission of preventing and ending homelessness in Howard County, we should all support a goal. Amid the pandemic, their creative Chili Virtual Fundraiser partnered with The Periodic Table restaurant, which proved successful. Check out their website to learn more. Thank you for your generosity.
▪ Sadly, scammers do not seem to rest. Once again, several parishioners informed me they had received suspicious emails soliciting help from me. The scammers use clever tactics, including generating new email addresses that look authentic but are not. My Archdiocesan and parish email address is email@example.com. Many of these fake emails use a portion of this address combined with a free email service like Google’s Gmail. Recipients of fake emails may report a false Gmail user who is impersonating me or anyone else at https://support.google.com/mail/contact/abuse. Unfortunately, there is little the parish can do directly, but if you receive a request from me, be skeptical. If you are uncertain of its validity, call the parish first, (410)747-4334.
▪ I do need your help. That aspect of the scammer’s e-mails is true (though preferably not through gift cards). Our parish remains committed to the mission and provides strong support for our families and individuals so that this unprecedented time might be a period of growth in discipleship. Stay engaged, even with all the temptations and distractions that might be pulling you away from the parish!
As a parish, we are committed to providing engaging and nourishing liturgy, both in person and digitally. Thanks to God, OLPH’s online community has kept parishioners and friends of our Parish connected in ways that I could not have imagined! As a result, we require a team of Audio Visual minded adults and youth who can help “behind the scenes” so that we may continue to stream Mass and sacraments. While most parishioners are aware of the streaming of Sunday and daily Masses, we also stream baptisms, weddings, and funerals. This service provides the opportunity to share these significant moments with family and friends who may not have been able to join in prayer except through the digital media. We also share these recordings with families post-event. If you are interested in volunteering, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett