Can you imagine what it must have been like for the father of a family to get up early every morning and go to the town square in the hope that someone would hire him?
Maybe He knew that there was nothing to eat in his house.
Maybe He knew that his wife and children were hungry.
Maybe he knew that their lives depended on him and the work of his hands and the sweat of his brow.
What was it like for him to stand there as foreman after foreman came by and hired others but did not hire him.
As the day progressed and sun passed over the sky what did the man feel knowing full well that he would probably have to go home empty handed with no food for those he loved.
And just when he thought all was lost almost at the end of the day the foreman came back one more time and hired those remaining.
He must have been so relieved that at the very least he would have some small thing to put on the table for his children.
In today’s Gospel we should be touched by the generosity of the land owner and taken aback by the reaction of the other laborers.
Instead of rejoicing at the good fortune of those hired last,
Instead of being grateful for generosity of the landowner which might benefit them some day,
the other chose to be angry and jealous and greedy.
Even though all of the day laborers were in the same desperate circumstances of those hired last,
and all of them had received a just wage for the work they had done.
They were still indignant
You know when I lived in Washington DC it became apparent to me that the whole city depended on the immigrants from South America to function.
On the construction sites the laborers all spoke Spanish and the foremen spoke English.
The men in suits road the expensive subway the poor covered in dust or wearing maid uniforms crowed in busses because the subway did not stop in their neighborhoods.
It was the same In all the restaurants, those who washed the dishes and prepared the food spoke Spanish you could hear them when they spoke with each other.
Washington is always filled with tourists and visitors and there are an incredible number of Hotels, the beds are made and the rooms are cleaned by poor immigrants from Latin America.
All of these types of jobs are done by a vast army of people who have left everything in the hope of something better for their families.
They willingly and gratefully almost always work at the kind of jobs we would not wish for our children or grand children.
When the recession hit the wealthy and our shrinking middle class were largely spared in DC. The government never runs out of money to hire.
But construction projects slowed just a bit.
Soon outside every home Depot and Lowes there appeared groups of men waiting, hoping to be hired for any menial task.
And whenever I saw them I was reminded of the Gospel we heard today.
If a car or pick up truck slowed down when they entered the parking lot the desperate men would run up and beg for work sometimes frightening the drivers.
Some greeted them with sympathy, many greeted these poor desperate men with hostility or anger yelling out of the car windows as they passed.
It seems that Home Depot parking lots had become the new town square where desperate people look for work to feed their families.
Both of these stories force us to ask ourselves are we or our country like the generous land owner in the Gospel or like the jealous co workers who got their first?
There is a lot of rhetoric emotion about immigration reform these days.
There are cities and towns who actively seek out unauthorized or illegal immigrants and try to send them home even though they have been here for many years have paid taxes and raised their families here.
The children of many of illegal immigrants have never known any other place. Even though their parents were illegal they were born here.
The issue of unauthorized or illegal immigration is complex and it is very tempting to knee jerk and just say send them back or be angry that they are here.
The fact remains that if we did so many of our crops would remain in the fields.
If we sent them all back the cost of construction projects would rise dramatically and many of our service industries would not have the labor the needed to service our restaurants and make up our hotel rooms.
One the other hand simply throwing open our borders to the world would create chaos.
We are a nation of immigrants many of our parents and grandparents and great grandparents were so desperate that they left all that they had too a risk and came to this country.
I have put the statement of the American Catholic Bishops on Immigration reform on our website. Next week, I am going to print the same statement in our bulletin for those who don’t do computers.
Let us ponder this complex question carefully and calmly and prayerfully.
Let us ask ourselves what would Jesus do?
or better yet what would Jesus have us do?
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