Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gospel Text for Sunday, September 18, 2011

Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, `You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock, he did the same. And about five o'clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, `Why are you standing here idle all day?' They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You also go into the vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, `Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.' When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

1 comment:

  1. Shocking. This landowner clearly had heard nothing about worker’s unions and negotiated wages. What kind of an employer has such unfair and frankly unwise business practices? But then I must remember that this is a parable and this is Jesus telling the disciples and pharisees and us something about God. God, the ultimate employer, plays with a different set of rules.

    In 21st century western civilization we are steeped in concern for equity and people being rewarded for their concerted efforts. I fear I must go so far as to say we are more concerned with equity, or just reward, than with the well-being of all people. But equity thinking does not find a home in God’s kingdom. God’s generosity extends to all and it is unmerited by any. God’s abundant generosity puts everyone on equal ground regardless of their efforts. God welcomes all to God’s kingdom.

    This gives me pause to remember that I cannot earn my way into God’s kingdom. The blessing of God’s generosity is unmerited. Holy God, open my heart to receive your blessing and to praise and thank you for caring for all of my brothers and sisters.