Home » Opinion » Reflections Today » The workers in the vineyard

The workers in the vineyard

Gospel Reading: Mt 20:1-16
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.”

Take what is yours and go
The landowner says this to the vineyard worker who has false expectations. The worker who has toiled all day thinks he should be given more than the one who has just reported for work. For him, the landowner is being unfair.

Trouble may well be avoided if the first workers were paid first. But the parable is not about religious or labor practice. It is meant to prick the mind of the listeners or readers as to how the Kingdom of God works.

The landowner represents God or Jesus. The workers are all those who are invited to work in God’s Kingdom. All who respond to God’s call will be treated equally. They will enjoy seeing God face to face in the same level without discrimination.

We cannot combine the standards of the world’s kingdoms With those of God’s reign.

* * *

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.