17TH AUGUST 2022
1st Reading Ezekiel14:1-11
Gospel: Mathew 20:1-16
Our reflection is be based on our Gospel passage. In this passage Jesus gives a parable commonly called "the parable of the vineyard workers". The vineyard goes out looking for potential employees at different hours of the day. For each cohort of employees he agrees on the remuneration (apparently one dinarius for the day's work for each group). A dinarius was a common wage for a day.
From a human point of view Jesus’ story makes no economic sense: and that was exactly what he wanted. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly teaching. Here Jesus was giving us a parable about the kingdom of heaven, which cannot be calculated like a day’s wages. The employer in Jesus’ story did not cheat those who worked all day; they got what they had agreed with him. Up to that point they were satisfied.
Their discontent arose from what can be referred to as "the scandalous mathematics of grace" - where the late comers were paid the same amount as the ones who had come earlier and had worked longer under hot sun! They would not accept that their employer had the right to do what he wanted with his money when it meant being generous or magnanimous (by paying those lazy late comers more than they deserved).
Quite often we describe this vine owner as unfair, prodigious, wasteful, extravagant ( negative qualities). Ordinarily we don't describe him as generous. In so doing we miss the story’s point: that God dispenses gifts, not wages. None of us gets paid according to merit, for none of us comes close to satisfying God’s requirements for a perfect life. If paid on the basis of fairness, we would all end up in hell. Rather, God rewards and judges us based upon the opportunities that He gives us. The later workers would have been willing to go to work earlier, but they were not given the opportunity by the employer.
if you are faithful with the small opportunities that God gives you, God will reward you with just as much as someone who was faithful with large opportunities that God gave them. He is perfectly fair.