Jesus makes known to us God, who is good to all and has mercy on all he has made, and whose thoughts and ways we are to admire.
The landowner is good to the jobless. But there are those who, rather than admire him, grumble. These are the ones who have worked for twelve hours. For they get the same pay as those who have worked for just an hour.
And, for sure, not a few of us go along with those who grumble. For we humans treat one another on the basis of personal merits or lack of them. That is to say, we give to each what each deserves. It is not fair, then, to pay those of the first hour the same as those of the last hour. And all this is how we humans are, think and act.
But God is not like us, nor does he think or act like us. He does not pay us as our merits or demerits warrant. For, in the first place, he does not look at how many hours we spend to spread the kingdom of heaven. Or how much work we do to proclaim the Good News.
And, of course, we have to admire his concern that we have eternal life. He is, yes, like the landowner who wants all dayworkers to have work. That is why “he even goes out himself five times to hire dayworkers for his vineyard.” And he gives those who have worked just for an hour the usual daily wage. It is what the family of a dayworker needs to get by for the day.
We should admire God’s thoughts, ways, and measure of what is fair.
No doubt, the heavens are higher than the earth. And this means, yes, God’s thoughts, ways, and measure of what is fair are higher than ours.
Since he is, then, not like us, he calls us unceasingly and tirelessly to be part of his kingdom. And he calls us all, no matter our race, culture, language, or nation. What counts is that we are his workers, that we live in a way worthy of the Good News. That we strive to build a fairer and more human world, in which we are all brothers and sisters. Sons and daughters of just one Father who is in heaven. There will no longer be poor folks, for there will be mercy, which will set us apart from animals (SV.EN XII:222).
And very generous, he will pay the workers of the first hour the same as the workers of the last hour. That is to say, it is the same to him that we are first or that we are last. For all of us who say “yes” to him will receive the kingdom as our common and best reward.
Before such a generous God, the only right stance for workers is that of lowliness, gratitude, wonder. We will not list down works done so that he may pay us for them later. No, we workers will make no demands. Nor will we compare ourselves to others. For as we admire God’s goodness, we will admit that we can do good works only by his grace. Due to it, we can even give our bodies up and shed our blood. And in the end, we will accept that we are useless servants (CRCM XII:14).
Lord Jesus, grant that we share your mission. We are sure that we shall receive the fair wage. Make sure, too, that we bear the day’s burden and the heat, and that we do not complain of God’s thoughts and ways, but rather admire them.
24 September 2023
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Is 55, 6-9; Phil 1, 20c-24. 27a; Mt 20, 1-16a