Daily Reflection
August 18th, 2004
Brigid Quinn Laquer
Preventive Medicine
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

“I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” (Ez 34:11)

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Ps 23:1)

“Are you envious because I am generous?” (Mt 20:15)

For me today’s readings are summed up in one word, generosity.  The landlord in Jesus’ parable hires people to work in his vineyard at dawn (6 a.m.), yet he goes out four other times over the course of the day and hires more workers that he finds who no one had hired and sends them to work with the promise of a just wage. The landlord is doubly generous in that he obviously hires more workers then he really needs, but he also pays all of them, regardless of the hours worked, a full day’s wage!  Ezra tells us how the sheep are generous.  They give of their milk, and their wool some even give their lives for the benefit of their shepherds, but the shepherds are not generous in return. The Psalmist today speaks of God as the Shepherd who waters, feeds, protects and cares for us generously. (Jesus identifies himself as the “Good Shepherd” in Chapter 10 of John’ Gospel.)

Some of the workers in today’s parable complain because the landlord’s generosity benefited others.  If the landlord’s generosity had benefited them by giving them more than the usual wages they would not have complained and probably, they would not have declined it either.  They were thinking of caring for themselves not of caring for their fellow workers, just as the shepherds in Ezra only thought of themselves and not of the sheep.  The workers and the shepherds (read we) are willing to be generous with themselves, but not with others. 

The theme of this parable- God is generous to you, you are called to be generous to others- continues the theme of all the shock maxims in Mathew’s Sermon on the Mount that we read earlier in the summer: going the extra mile, giving your extra shirt to the one who asks, loving your enemy, forgiving in the face of persecution and criticism, turning the other cheek etc.  One must be generous to everyone, always just as God has been generous with you. 

The Church’s teaching on Social Justice states that every individual is endowed with dignity and the social order must uphold that dignity and seek the common good.  The purpose of government is to promote that common good and allow everyone to participate in society.  It also teaches that the earth and its resources are the gifts of our generous God and they are meant for everyone to share according to their need.  We are only stewards, trustees or shepherds, if you will.

More than justice we need to recognize that we are one family, one community, with the same needs, desires and aspirations.  We are called to live a self-forgetting life of care and concern for others.  We need to work for solidarity among all people so that everyone not only has the right to a decent standard of living, to be educated, and to live in peace and freedom, but that they DO have a decent standard of living.  They ARE educated and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. And they DO live in peace and freedom.  Then we will be ‘good’ and generous shepherds in the likeness of our God and they will know we are Christians by our love.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook