Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Jesus came to turn everything upside down. This story has many wonderful points to it:
1) The landowner, which of course is God, seeks to employ people who are idle. In other words, the Lord seeks us in love. He wants salvation for us. Sometimes we go through life busy about things that don’t really matter, but we are idle with our spiritual lives. The Lord invites us to consider “working” for Him and the Kingdom. He pursues us, but also gives us the freedom to say “yes” or “no”.
2) Some people have never been invited to consider Jesus Christ, as we hear in this Gospel passage when they were asked why they were idle, “Because no one has hired us.” Many people have not truly heard the Good News of Jesus Christ because there are not enough laborers in the vineyard. Many are called; few respond. We are not all called to be priests or religious, but we are all called to do our part in evangelizing the world, inviting others to share in this banquet to which we have been invited.
3) God is generous with His grace. The landowner generously gave everyone the full day’s wage, which represents eternal life. It didn’t matter if they were working all day long or if they only worked one hour. The point is God wants all of us to enjoy heaven. Some of us respond with a “yes” our whole lives. Some don’t respond until much later in life. But to God it is never too late.
4) God wants to dispel our jealousy. Look how the ones who worked all day were offended that the landowner gave the late arrivals the same pay. It is not fair! Yet, God’s ways are so far beyond our ways. And when it comes to heaven, we are all offered the same – eternal life. It should not matter to us when others accept God’s offer – early or late – because when we are with God we are COMPLETELY FULFILLED. And we want others to experience the same.
5) And once again, Jesus reiterates that “the first will be last and the last will be first”. This should make us think how we compare ourselves with others. Am I better than someone else? Do I deserve more than my neighbor because of my education or status? According to God, we are all His sons and daughters and He wants to lavish His love upon us all.
Am I working in the vineyard?
If not, what am I waiting for?
If so, do I compare myself with others or do I focus on the goal of heaven?
Do I see myself as superior to others?
Or do I put others and their needs before my own?
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me the way you do. Help me to respond to your invitation with a resounding “YES”! Help me to focus my life on you and not be distracted by all of the things that this world offers. I desire eternal life with you and all that you offer me. I want everyone around to experience heaven as well. Help me to work faithfully and tirelessly for you, Lord.
Have a blessed day!
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