A Story About Workers
“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’
“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’
“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’
“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’
“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
Life's not fair! Thank God for that!
I am normally a big fan of fairness, justice, impartiality, but not in this case. It's impossible to earn God's love. What a wonderful thing that it! There isn't a mark scheme or a points system with God. His gift of salvation is not given after the correction number of hours of prayer are completed or when we've reach our target number of charitable acts. Working the hardest, attending the most Masses won't get you into heaven. It's not a competition. We are saved by grace through faith.
I think Matthew's story about the workers is meant to shake us up a bit. To remind us that God is love. Love, love, love. Love beyond our human understanding. A love so infinite and unconditional that no matter what we did before we came to the vineyard and what time in the day we arrived, God, our loving Father is waiting for us with open arms. We are called to build His kingdom, to show others the way to the vineyard so that they too can receive that perfect love and be witnesses to it in the world.
We love you and we praise you. You made us and you love us. Help us to be worthy of that love and to be your witnesses in our world so that you more and more people can experience your merciful and loving kindness.