Generosity versus fairness (Mt 20:13-20:15)

“But the landowner replied

To one of them.

‘Friend!

I am doing you no wrong!

Did you not agree

With me

For a denarius?

Take what belongs to you!

Go!

I choose to give

To this last

The same

As I give to you.

Am I not allowed to do

What I choose

With what belongs to me?

Or are you envious

Because I am generous?’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν εἶπεν Ἑταῖρε, οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε· οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι;

ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε· θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί·

οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς; ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι;

 

This parable is unique to Matthew, as Jesus concluded this parable.  The landowner replied to one of them (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν) with a sarcastic greeting of companion or friend (εἶπεν Ἑταῖρε).  He had done nothing wrong to them (οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε).  They had agreed to the one denarius pay for a day’s work (οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι).  They should just take their money and go (ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε).  If the landowner was generous that was not the problem of this day laborer.  He could give to the last hired what he gave to the first hired (θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί).  Was he not allowed (οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι) to do whatever he wanted to do with his own belongings (ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς).  Were they envious with an evil eye (ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν) because he was generous (ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι)?  In fact, they did not mind generosity.  They just wanted to know why none of that generosity came their way.  That is the problem with generosity.  The person who worked hard for a fair payment sometimes resents the generosity towards those who did not do as much work.  Why was the hard worker for the whole day not compensated more generously than the one-hour worker?  There are always two sides to every story.

Discipline of a son (Sir 30:1-30:3)

“He who loves his son

Will whip him often.

Thus he may rejoice

At the way he turns out.

He who disciplines his son,

Will profit by him.

He will boast of him

Among acquaintances.

He who teaches his son

Will make his enemies envious.

He will glory in him

In the presence of friends.”

Sirach says that if you love your son, you will whip him often. This is the spare the rod spoils the son idea, since there is no rejection of corporal punishment. Then you will rejoice when you see how your son has turned out. You will have a great reward, if you discipline your son. You will be able to boast about him among your acquaintances. If you teach your son, your enemies will be envious. You will also be able to glorify your son in the presence of your friends. There is this constant problem of friends and enemies.

The foolish giver (Sir 20:13-20:17)

“The wise make themselves beloved

By only a few words.

But the courtesies of fools are wasted.

A fool’s gift will profit nothing.

So it is with the envious

Who give under compulsion.

He looks for recompense sevenfold.

He has many eyes instead of one.

He gives little.

He upbraids much.

He opens his mouth

Like a town crier.

Today he lends.

Tomorrow he asks it back.

Such a one is a hateful man.

Such a one is hateful to God.

Such a one is hateful to humans.

The fool says.

‘I have no friends.

I get no thanks for my good deeds.

Those who eat my bread

Are evil-tongued.’

How many will ridicule him!

How often will they ridicule him!”

Wise people can make themselves loved with a few words. However, fools have a difficult time. Courtesies and gifts do not bring them any gain. The same is true of the envious people that are forced to give a gift. They are looking for a reward. These fools are looking to be compensated. They are looking all over with their many eyes. They give little. They are always criticizing. They are like town criers, shouting all the time. One day they lend things. Then the next day, they want them back again. These fools are hateful people to God and their fellow humans. These foolish people think that they have no friends. They get no thanks for their good deeds. They think that the people who eat with them are evil people. Thus they are often ridiculed by many people.

Have hope (Prov 23:17-23:19)

“Do not let your heart envy sinners.

But always continue in the fear of Yahweh.

Surely there is a future.

Your hope will not be cut off.

Hear!

My child!

Be wise!

Direct your mind in the way.”

Do not be envious of sinners. You should continue with your fear of Yahweh all the time. There will be a future, so always have hope. Hear and be wise. Keep your mind on the right way, the straight path.

The success of the arrogant wicked people (Ps 73:3-73:9)

“I was envious of the arrogant.

I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no pain.

Their bodies are sound and sleek.

They are not in trouble as others are.

They are not plagued like other people.

Therefore pride is their necklace.

Violence covers them like a garment.

Their eyes swell out with fatness.

Their hearts overflow with follies.

They scoff.

They speak with malice.

Loftily they threaten oppression.

They set their mouths against heaven.

Their tongues range over the earth.”

Here we have a vivid description of these wicked arrogant people. Asaph, this psalmist, was envious of their prosperity. They did not have any pain with their sound slick bodies. They did not have troubles like other people who had various illnesses. They were proud violent people. Their garments and their necklaces were indications of their violent nature. They had fat eyes and foolish hearts. They were malicious people who threatened violence. They spoke against heaven as they pursued things here on earth.

Do not worry about the evildoers (Ps 37:1-37:2)

“A psalm of David

Alep

Do not fret because of the wicked!

Do not be envious of wrongdoers!

They will soon fade like the grass.

They will wither like the green herbs.”

Once again, Psalm 37 is a long acrostic psalm with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet starting each verse, like Psalms 9, 10, 25, and 34. Thus it is a little incoherent as a simple wisdom psalm of David. The evildoers seem to be doing okay. We should not fret, worry, or be envious about wicked evildoers. They would soon fade like the grass and wither up like the green herbs.