This truth is so central to getting our heads around this gospel today. Our deeply ingrained sense of justice kicks in, and when we hear that the workers who only had to work for the last hour of the day are paid the same as the ones who have laboured under the hot sun for the whole day – we are outraged. Where is the sense of justice in that? We are not surprised that the a ll-day workers would grumble and complain.
But Jesus is telling us something about the Kingdom of heaven and not so much about social justice and labour conditions. He is telling us something about what God is like by telling us this parable. And he has already told us that the kingdom is all about reversals – the first will be last and the last will be first.
The workers who were called last told the master that they weren’t working all day – simply because no one hired them. I think some of us know what that’s like – being the ones that get overlooked, that no one wants. Ouch.
Most likely Jesus was also thinking about people like us – those who are trying to do the right thing and follow the Lord. He is giving a warning to the disciples who were following him then, and we who are trying to follow him now.
God is by nature generous. But what we receive from God is not like a wage – it is not a reward for the work that we have done. We are not in a contract with God – although many of us grew up thinking we were! No, God is in a covenant with us. He promises us everything – and is always faithful to his promises.
+ Jesus, help us to receive your generous love and your goodness as a free gift. Help us also to join you in the marketplace as you look to welcome all those who have been overlooked and ignored by the world. Amen.
** I am currently away on Sabbatical leave; podcasts have been prepared for most weeks ahead; please pray for me over the months ahead! **