Our scripture this week is Matthew 20:1-16.
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
This parable speaks of workers being hired at different times, an illustration that we did not all come to faith at the same time. However, as we learn from the lesson, God treats us all the same. Just as the landowner was pleased to give each worker the same payment, God has the same blessing for us.
Jesus warned the disciples many times that our faith has no hierarchy, that there is no ranking among His followers. Instead He taught “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). This is the paradox that we face and it doesn’t fit with our “success at any cost” human thinking.
That’s just the point – Jesus came to change our thinking, our hearts, our minds and our lives. He wants us to see a better way of living, in relationship with God and each other. When we think of caring for our brothers and sisters rather than gain for ourselves, we are truly following Jesus.
Loving Lord, we are often self-centered and greedy, concerned with our needs and not those of others. Help us to be more loving to those around us, caring for them as You would. Amen.