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Matthew 20:1-16

The Word of God

Jesus said to his disciples, "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock, he did the same. And about five o'clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, 'Why are you standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, 'Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.' When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Matthew 20:1-16
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    • This parable describes a joyless world of work, where people were engaged for one day, or even for one hour. There is no joy in their work, only heaviness and insecurity, which produce anger and tensions. In our world too, more and more people find no joy in their work, but only anxiety and hardship.
    • The landowner introduces a new style: people work hard, but here work has dignity, and even those who did not manage to find work for the whole day receive enough to safeguard their dignity. The rules of the kingdom are different: they go beyond strict justice, and create respect and solidarity. Lord, may your kingdom come in our world so full of injustice and tension.
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    • The phrase, ‘the kingdom of heaven’ often stands for God, and the central revelation here is just how generous God is. Think of the generosity of God the Father and ask that your heart may be opened to the fact that God is pure love, nothing else.
    • Think of this love as a great waterfall, with everyone invited to come close to it and be drenched by its spray. In prayer and life you are meeting this lavish God who does not know when or how or why to stop loving you. This love is inexhaustible, but it is for sharing! I am meant to be generous with the love given to me, and not hoard it like a miser.
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    • We all find something disconcerting in this parable. Perhaps we need to look at this parable from the perspective of the work in the vineyard. Jesus encouraged us to pray for more workers to be sent in the vineyard, for the harvest is plentiful and the workers few. Being called to work in the Father's vineyard is a privilege, a grace to ask for.
    • ‘Are you envious because I am generous?’ I let this question linger in my heart, and ask for the grace of inner freedom when I look at my gifts and limitations, and at those of the persons around me. True love rejoices at the gifts others have.
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    • In justice the fewer hours a person worked, the less pay he should have received but the vineyard knew that what he was offering the workers was minimal and that to give a person less, the family would be left hungry. He went beyond justice, motivated by compassion.
    • Are there times when I selfishly consider myself more deserving than others?
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