Wednesday of Week 20 – Ez 34:1-11; Psalm 22:1-6; Matthew 20:1-16
There are various interpretations of the meaning of the parable of the vineyard workers, but all of them are underpinned by one truth: the extravagant generosity of God. If we respond to His love, God promises us eternal life. ‘Eternal’ not only means timeless but also wholeness and fullness. He gives us the fullness of life, forever fulfilled. When the landowner pays the workers, he pays them what he promised to pay them for answering his call to work in his vineyard. To the first he promised a denarius, the next fair pay, and to the last nothing other than having work. And all received what was promised – the same. God is faithful to His promise and gives freely to those who turn to His love. It is a free gift, and a gift is not measured out – certainly not the divine gift of eternal life . . . how can something eternal, something full be divided to give more to some than others?
The complaint of the workers who worked all day was that it was an injustice that the workers who worked an hour were paid the same as them; this warns us against envy. Envy is not just jealousy, it is being upset at another’s good fortune. In the Greek of the gospel, it is literally called the ‘evil eye’; this is the real injustice. The message is: that God’s goodness is boundless and His generosity abundant. The challenge is to rejoice in this. None of us deserves or earns His grace and we all have reason to be grateful that He is so generous.
Indeed, it is an encouragement that it is never too late to become Christian. Most of us will have people close to us, loved ones, who we pray for that they will receive faith. Even if it is at the eleventh hour that they say “no one has hired us yet” the Lord will say “go into my vineyard too” and they too will receive all that is promised.