August 17, 2016 - The Vineyard

When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’

Matthew 20:1-16

This is a classic example of God’s economy of grace. 

Whether we are secular or religious, we generally want people to be rewarded for their good behavior and be punished for their bad behavior.  But that’s not how God’s grace works.  He “makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Mt 5:45)” 

Jesus knows this is not palatable to us.  Time after time he predicted the rejection of his message and his eventual execution. He was not executed by evil men who objected to his advocacy of love, humility, and service to the poor.  It is the idea that faith is not about moral codes that got Jesus killed.   

We should avoid the temptation of thinking that the workers who showed up at five o’clock represent deathbed conversions or last minute repentance.   There is every indication that workers who never show up at all receive the same love.