The Gospel last Sunday September 18, 2011 was taken from Matthew 20:1-16. It was about the laborers in the vineyard who came to work in different hours but come afternoon all of them received just one dinari. So expected that those who worked longer complained why they were paid with the same amount. Their arguments:”we work longer hours than those who came in at 5pm”. But the owner reprimanded them:”Who are you to question me? Or are you jealous of my kindness?
First point: If the owner is God being reflected in the account, then who are we to question God? The story showed that God treats people equally.
However, looking into the story, the workers who are asked to work in the field really MISSED something. The agreement was clear: “Come to work in the field and be paid 1 dinari” That was the agreement. The owner did not say, “if your work longer, you will be paid better, meaning higher than the rest. That was the expectation of the workers. Sometimes if not most of the times,we act like the workers, we complain and love to complain: “It is unfair!”
Second point: God wills equality… In the story all workers were called to work in the field and received their salary equally irregardless of the time involved, meaning, all of us are called to serve God irregardless of age, time of our lives we respond. No one can make judgment only God can tell how worthy we are to God. Even how we claim we serve God to the highest but only God can tell if our service is pleasing to God’s eyes. And serving God comes in many ways, wherever you are and whatever fields you are in. It does not mean that only those in the ordain ministry is serving God! That is an”exclusivist” view as reflected in some understanding that becoming a priest is the highest form of service.
Third point: God requires quality service from all of us. We may differ in our understanding of what quality is but we mean here service with all honesty, humility and with gladness without discrimination. In John 15:12-14, it says “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (You may continue read the following verses) This should be the frame of mind in doing quality service, a kind of service without condition.
Points of reflection: What God promised to us? What is our covenant with God? Why we remain Christians and have faith in the Triune God? What we really expect from God? What we can offer back to God?
And we are always reminded from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25: 40“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family/brethren, you did it to me”. 45 “Truly I tell you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me”.
To be a laborer in God’s vineyard, it is all fair working for God. We are asked to work and we agree without condition either we will be paid lower or higher. So why asked how much we will be paid at the end of the day? God knows what kind of service we offered to God and how much our service is worth. And it is very clear whom we are going to serve: the least of our brethren, as God has clearly specified. It is really a must to know who are the least of our brethren in the society we are in!
Should the laborers in the story know whom they are working with and for whom their service is, maybe they would not complain if they receive equal pay after a day’s work.