AUGUST 18. Ord Time B. Wk 20. Wed. Mt 20. 1-16
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus, the last will be first, and the first, last.’
Christ himself has given us a central teaching of this reading with his word; “Why be envious because I am generous?” And Christians should be grateful to hear this message, as we are all going to be dependent on this generosity when our time on earth comes to an end.
Christ, as the landowner, went out searching for workers for his vineyard, which takes us back to his plea; - “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few!” So, what the parable is teaching us is we have a generous creator who wants people to work in his vineyard and assist him in obtaining a good harvest!
What we have to do, in our daily life, is to take this parable and apply it to our lives; - with God wanting us to work for the growth of his Kingdom and the redemption of souls; - in the way Christ taught. Christians easily “overlook” the fact Christ is not only seeking labours, but he also worked in the vineyard himself; - and showed us the what he wants of us.
And then we are told that, after the harvest, (when our life comes to an end) we will all receive the same payment; - loving union with God for eternity! It matters not if you have been working in the vineyard for forty hours, or for forty years, the “pay” will be the same; - an intimate union with God; - for eternity!
The attitude of the workers in the parable was ‘longer work’ means greater benefits, but this is clearly not the mind of Christ; - who ‘pays’ according to the depth of love! This is the difference between the ‘mind of God’ and the ‘mind of man’; - the love in our hearts!
And then we have the final teaching of the parable; - “The last will be first, and the first last!”
The parable is all about Christ’s generosity, with those who were hired for the vineyard very late, being given the same as those who worked throughout the day, and this is the meaning of “the last will be first!” Sinners and those who convert and change their way of life “late in the day” will frequently enter eternal life first!
Gospel Acclamation Heb4:12
The word of God is living and active:
it probes the thoughts and motives of our heart.