In reading today’s Gospel we immediately think of today’s situation of the rich and the poor, the unemployed, people being laid off, the poor economy and all the effects of the above. The landowner is portrayed as a just man and also one who offered to help the less fortunate ones. Yet we are a bit surprised at the end, when all received the same wage. It doesn’t sound too fair to us.
In interpreting this parable we need to remember that this parable is really about God’s ways and God’s justice: what God offers is, not wages but salvation that is the same for everyone. The surprise of the parable is that salvation is not earned at all, but it is God’s gift to us and God gives it generously. We can never deserve salvation but are given salvation because of God’s holiness and God’s ways which are above our ways.
How often do we think of God’s gift to us? Does it lead me to imitate His greatness and generosity? Do I ever tend to think that some people don’t deserve God’s gift of salvation? Remember that Matthew was writing during the time that the Jews really resented the Gentiles joining the Christian community. Matthew shows how Jesus received criticism from the scribes and Pharisees. They could not accept the Gentiles who were latecomers to the vineyard at the “eleventh hour.”
A parable is meant to teach me a lesson. First of all, I think that my first response should be one of GRATITUDE for the gift of salvation. How often do I take it for granted? Many people today have never even heard of the vineyard. Then, how many times do I help the landowner bring people to the vineyard? What has Baptism meant for me? This is a very basic teaching and one that we may sometimes forget. God, my landowner, help me become a good worker.