By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9
Loving and righteous God, your boundless generosity exceeds all that we can desire or deserve, and you give to the last worker all you promised to the first:
liberate us from all jealousy and greed, that we may be free to love and serve others, and in your service may find our true reward;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
- Exodus 16:2-15
- Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45
- Philippians 1
- Matthew 20:1-16
- Next week:
- Exodus 17:1-7
- Psalm 78:1-4, 11-16
- Philippians 2
- Matthew 21:23-32
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 17 – Matthew 20:1-16
The parable of the generous vineyard owner: “Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The parable of the generous vineyard owner (which appears only in Matthew’s Gospel) is the first of several parables and exhortations challenging the Pharisees and scribes and those who criticised Jesus for preaching to tax collectors and sinners.
Jesus makes two points in this parable:
First, the parable speaks of the primacy of compassion and mercy in the kingdom of God. The employer (God) responds to those who have worked all day that he has been just in paying them the agreed-upon wage; they have no grievance if he chooses to be generous to others. God’s goodness and mercy transcends the narrow and limited laws and logic of human justice; it is not the amount of service given but the attitude of love and generosity behind that service.
The parable also illustrates the universality of the new Church. The contracted workers, Israel, will be joined by the new “migrant workers,” the Gentiles, who will share equally in the joy of the kingdom of God.
Today’s Gospel strikes at our tendency to judge everything and everyone in terms of how it affects me. How someone else benefits or is lifted up doesn’t matter — my hurt feelings trump their joy. Christ calls us to embrace the vision of the generous vineyard owner: to rejoice in the good fortune of others and their being enabled to realise their dreams, instead of lamenting our own losses and slights.
We have our scales, yardsticks, actuary tables and market indices to measure what is just and what is not; but God is generous, loving and forgiving with an extravagance that sometimes offends our sense of justice and fair play.
Christ calls us to look beyond labels like “tax collector” and “prostitute” and seek out and lift up the holiness and goodness that reside in every person who is, like each one of us, a child of God. The parable of the generous vineyard owner invites us to embrace the vision of God that enables us to welcome everyone to the work of the harvest, to rejoice in God’s blessings to all, to help one another reap the bounty of God’s vineyard.
You can read the Pew Sheet here