The Scriptures that we hear every weekend are not just for a people thousands of years ago, they are also meant for us. It would be good for us to remember that Jesus used stories/parables to throw His listeners off balance. (And that means us sometimes)
These stories/parables of Jesus are meant to help people, “trip over their own-self righteousness and remind them of God’s sovereignty and sovereign freedom.”
When it comes to the THINGS of GOD, we are being warned about having 100 percent certitude, that we really know what God thinks and what God would do. We may be surprised!
Take today’s Gospel. I would guess that most people would say this vineyard owner was not fair with the workers, especially those who worked all day versus those who worked much less. Jesus in the story makes it a point to share that the first paid were the last to be hired, not the first hired/first paid and off they went without every knowing what the last hired were paid. There was a point to be made by Jesus and he made it.
But, as it often the case, there is a bigger lesson here, another layer if you will, about the goodness of God, the care of God, and not just the generosity of God.
What goes unsaid in this Gospel story today is the fact that not only the people who were working needed a job, but so did the people who were found “standing around idle all day.”
When the laborers respond to the question “of their Idleness” by saying, “no one hired us,” it was understood by anyone who ever stood in their position after being here all day, we’ve still got nothing with which to buy food for our children, our family.
The question lurking underneath this parable is: What is just?
For Jesus, it was more important that people’s needs for survival be taken care of than someone having the luck of landing a great job.
It certainly was a challenge to the early morning workers to hear this parable from Jesus and I think it is even a challenge to us, some 2000 years removed from Jesus telling the story.
Yet, the needs of people and their survival continue to be a challenge to us in our time in history.
Summing it all up; God is far more generous than we would ever expect. Generous with love, forgiveness, patience, mercy, life and eternal life.
Today’s Scriptures are meant to be more than a lesson for us to know and hopefully remember God’s generosity toward all. Today’s Scriptures are also an invitation to each of us as Disciples of Jesus to show the generosity of God, in the lives we live today.
In the hours and days to follow, how will we conduct ourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ? How is God asking us to express generosity in our lives as person, family and Parish?