Our Gospel this weekend speaks to two competing values that we allhave in our hearts. On one hand, there is the value of fairness
and on the other hand, there is the value of generosity
. In choosing to pay the workers who worked less time in the vineyard the same amount as those workers that worked a full day, the Lord is emphasizing the value of generosity. After all we always have the option to be generous to others even if they may not fully deserve it. However, this act can easily rub our sense of fairness the wrong way. It hardly seems fair that those who worked such a short period of time should be paid as mush as those who toiled and took the burden of a full day of work. So hopefully this Gospel strikes a conversation in our hearts about when is the appropriate time to emphasize fairness, and when is it appropriate to emphasize generosity.
Well you can almost never go wrong emphasizing generosity but fairness is a little more tricky. Fairness should never be measured by comparing one person to another. Fairness rather has more to do with what is appropriate to the dignity of the human person. Now we are measuring fairness off of something concrete. Using the scripture as an example the reason why the workers who received a full day wage for a full day of work was fair is that is precisely what was offered to them. There was nothing unfair about that. They are confusing their employers generosity to help someone else out as a slight against them. This same dynamic happens in the parable of the prodigal son when the older faithful brother is upset at the father for being so generous with his wayward son that squandered his inheritance only to return later in remorse. Our sense of fairness should rightly be triggered in instances when someone does not receive what is fair, rather then when someone benefits due to someone's generosity.
St. Alexander… pray for us God Bless, Fr Mark