Justice and Generosity

Scripture of the Day:  Workers in the Vineyard

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off.

[And] he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my 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?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:1–16

Wages. Something we all understand. Fair wages, livable wages, making ends meet. How unfair to human minds it seems that one who worked fewer hours would receive the same wage as one who worked the entire day.

How unfair that one man pays the price for the sin of all men. But this is God’s offer to us. God’s generosity (an inadequate word) is incomprehensible to our calculating minds, even minds that think themselves just. God’s gift of eternal life comes not by our own merit or effort, but as a free gift. We receive it not through work but by grace through faith, and this is not from you (Saint Paul in Ephesians 2).

Through this parable, we can begin to understand that one who turns to God later in life, after living as though God did not exist, may also receive the gift of eternal life just as the one who served God throughout his life.

What does Jesus ask of us:  believe in the one he sent (John 6:29).

Question of the Day:  How will God’s generosity with you inspire you to be generous, beyond just, with others?


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