Today’s readings give us two lessons about service:
In the first reading we hear an allegory of the forest trees coming to their most prominent members, asking each one to lead them. But every tree declines, asking “why would I want to give up my comfortable glory to serve like that?” As a last resort, they ask the buckthorn tree. This last tree is something of a large bush, and not good for very much. The buckthorn agrees and rules as a tyrant over them.
What is the lesson for us here? If we Catholics are not willing to sacrifice our some of our comfortable glory for the social needs of others, we should expect bad things to come. As Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”
The second lesson is from the Gospel, where we hear the parable most likely to offend an American’s sense of justice. We hear that the last laborers work a little and receive the same pay as the first. But the landowner is right to say that he has robbed no one. The first laborers receive the full wage which they agreed was fair and just at the beginning of the day.
What is the lesson here for us in our service? Serving Christ is work, but it should not make us feel deprived. It should make us feel enriched. If we come to the end of the day’s labors feeling bitterness at our Landlord we are in need of an open and honest conversation with Him.