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.”
There is something about this Gospel reading that bothers us because it is not fair. Imagine being one of the people that were hired in the early morning. You work all day long, sweating and laboring in the heat. Throughout the day, more workers are joining you. Finally a group comes out to work for about an hour before the end of the day.
As they begin to hand out the money for the day you see the last workers to arrive receive a full-day’s wage. You are certain that the owner will pay you much more since you were out there all day long. You have spent yourself and worked hard. You deserve more. Yet, the landowner gives you the same wage that he gave to those who just worked a short amount of time. This isn’t just! This isn’t fair, you scream!
Yet, God’s ways are not our ways. If He never hired any people after you, you would have been happy with a full-day’s wage. And yet, somehow you feel cheated. You feel just like the older son in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The older son never left his father’s side. He was faithful the whole time. And yet, when his younger brother returns home after a selfish journey, after having squandered all of his inheritance, his father throws a party for him? That isn’t fair. That isn’t just. And yet, the Father tells the older son, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” (Luke 11:31-32)
“Everything I have is yours.” This is what the Father tells me and you. He loves us and showers down His blessings upon us. He wants us to live with Him forever in heaven. He wants to shower us with grace and abundant joy here on earth. What more do we want?
The selfish or competitive part of us wants to receive more than anyone else. We want to be compensated for our faithfulness. We want to receive more than someone who just converts on their death bed. And yet, the Father tells us, “Everything I have is yours.”
Take some time today to reflect on the Father’s love for you.
Let these words soak deep into your heart.
Our job is to receive this love and then go out and invite others into this loving relationship with the Father as well.
We cannot outdo God in generosity.