Daily Archives: August 20, 2019

21 August, Wednesday – An Agreement

Aug 21 – Memorial for St. Pius X, pope

Pius X (1835-1914) encouraged frequent Holy Communion. He reformed the liturgy, promoted clear and simple homilies, and brought Gregorian chant back to services. He also reorganised the Roman curia, the administrative elements of the Church, and worked against the modern antagonism of the state against the Church. His other contributions to the Church included: initiating the codification of canon law, promoting Bible reading by all the faithful, and supporting foreign missions. His will read: “I was born poor; I lived poor; I wish to die poor.”

 – Patron Saint Index

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Judges 9:6-15

All the leading men of Shechem and all Beth-millo gathered, and proclaimed Abimelech king by the terebinth of the pillar at Shechem.

News of this was brought to Jotham. He came and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted aloud for them to hear:

‘Hear me, leaders of Shechem, that God may also hear you!

‘One day the trees went out to anoint a king to rule over them. They said to the olive tree, “Be our king!”

‘The olive tree answered them, “Must I forego my oil which gives honour to gods and men, to stand swaying above the trees?”

‘Then the trees said to the fig tree, “Come now, you be our king!”

‘The fig tree answered them, “Must I forego my sweetness, forego my excellent fruit, to stand swaying above the trees?”

‘Then the trees said to the vine, “Come now, you be our king!”

‘The vine answered them, “Must I forego my wine which cheers the heart of gods and men, to stand swaying above the trees?”

‘Then all the trees said to the thorn bush, “Come now, you be our king!”

‘And the thorn bush answered the trees, “If in all good faith you anoint me king to reign over you, then come and shelter in my shade. If not, fire will come from the thorn bush and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”’

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Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’

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I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius?

At this point in my life, I am struggling with this constant comparison of my own valuation of my work and salary with that of others. I have always felt that I’ve deserved much more than the salary I’m getting now, based on my skillset and my attitude towards my work. It’s always going to be unmotivating whenever such thoughts come to my mind. The reality is, however, that I agreed to it, whether it’s the lack of negotiation skills or the need for the job, I accepted that offer, whether willingly or unwillingly. This is the agreement I have with regards to my current job and the required job scope that I am to fulfil and it is an agreement that I should uphold, in order not to be unjust to my employer.

Everything comes with a price and everyone wants more. In the first reading, we read of how the trees are afraid to give of themselves for the greater good of others. And how, if we are to make the thorn bush king, then not only do we solely enjoy its benefits, we also accept the consequences and outcomes that come along with the decision. Our failure is that many times we fail to see, or face, the consequences of our actions; we merely do what we want to do, follow who we want to follow, buy what we want to buy and yet solely expect our current responsibilities not to be affected in any way. We also see how others are unjust to us, but fail to recognise how we have been unjust to others. We determine our own value and the value that we should receive.

Our God, however, sees us all as equals as the landowner in the Gospel today. He loves us all equally despite the different lives that we live, because we are worth it. Our God is one who is committed to us, who accepts and believes in us, who died for us, that we will be saved. And that is truly God’s desire for us as in the Gospel, where it isn’t about how much you are paid, but the response that we have toward God’s calling in our lives. Heaven isn’t for the rich nor has a minimum salary earning to enter. Heaven is for all who respond and serve in God’s vineyard, NO MATTER HOW LATE, for He is waiting to share this eternal reward with all who keep their agreement, keep this hope, keep this faith.

May we be reminded that our worth isn’t in what we do or how much we earn, but by who we are, what we stand for, who we live for, who we serve. We are not just meant to realise or be wise but to have the conviction to respond to His plan for us, not to work for the one denarius, but to know that we are in His vineyard and that’s all that matters. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the awareness to see beyond material goods and the ways of the world, to be able to see your hand in our lives. That you will provide us with good bosses and colleagues to help us on our journey as we continue to lead lives that are just first, before looking at the other. Help us to know that we will only be contented when we choose to be contented. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the opportunity to read this reflection today. Thank you for speaking to us in your own special way. Thank you for my current job, family, friends, my current financial position and everything that I’ve been ungrateful for. Thank you for also providing me with the opportunity to respond. Amen.