There Is A Place for Everyone in The Lord’s Vineyard...
Jesus tells a parable that scandalizes our sense of justice and fair wages but also exposes us to the endless benevolence of God. In today’s gospel the owner of a vineyard goes out to recruit workers. In biblical understanding, vineyard symbolizes God’s work in the world.
The workers represent those who seem to be disengaged in seeking their life vocation or have abandoned the Lord. The owner of the vineyard represents God the Father, who never ceases to be concerned about our well-being. Every hour the owner steps out and invites more workers into the vineyard. There seems to be a place for every worker in his vineyard. God calls whom he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. Then, at the end of the working day, he pays everyone.
How he paid them became an issue for some workers. He began paying the late arrivals and each got the same amount, one denarius. His generosity sparked outrage among those workers who put in more hours. They did not hesitate to express their discontent: “The last group did only an hour’s work, but you have put them on the same level as those who have worked a full day in the scorching heat.”
We find a similar response in the story of the prodigal son when his elder brother expressed his discontentment with his father’s kindness. The earlier workers were so sad and disturbed; they felt a sense of injustice. We can easily identify with such feelings. We want to be treated fairly and to be compensated in terms of efficiency and profitability. Each person deserves to get a salary that is proportionate to the work he has done, to the skills he has contributed, and to the responsibility he has discharged.
However, the owner had a different point of view. He paid his workers the agreed amount but reserved the right to spend his money as generously as he wanted. He did not break his contract with the workers. God cannot be limited in his mercy, kindness or generosity. God disposes of his goods as he chooses.
As the prophet Isaiah puts it: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” Here is another viewpoint: the early workers escaped from the anxiety of unemployment and assurance of daily bread through their wages. The later workers were not so fortunate. The lessons for us include avoiding avarice, greed, and obstructing God’s mercy to others. All these tell more about the kingdom that Jesus is offering us. It is a different kind of logic and reality. It is a kingdom of goodness, mercy, and gratuitous gift-giving. We are liberated from the world of right, profit, and fair exchange. It is an invitation to enter into the intimacy of the Lord.
Above all, God is love. Saint Paul tells us so much about love: “There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure” (1 Cor 13:7). This explain why “the last shall be first.” We have received many talents from God, different in nature and number. We are obliged to put them to good use for the benefit of others.
Sincerely Yours In Christ,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike
PS: My sincere gratitude to everyone who made it possible for a successful Parish Festival for both Holy Cross and Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert. May God richly bless you and reward you abundantly.