Summary: Sermons by Father Dave ...
I’m really sorry Kon isn’t here.
Kon is my best mate, and was my trainer and corner-man for all my fights, and it’s not that I need him here ‘in my corner’ when I’m preaching. It’s because when I first met him, he said to me, “Dave, I’ve read the Bible, and what about that guy who hires some workers but then pays the guys who work one hour the same as he pays the guys who work all day! Did Jesus really say that? Where’s the justice in that?”
Well … yes, Jesus did really say that, and it’s a pity Kon isn’t here because today is the day we’re looking at that story, and the question still remains … where’s the justice in it?’
Kon may be disappointed, not being here. Others may be disappointed that you chose this week to show up! For, we have to be honest, in as much as the service revolves around this text, this is not likely to be one of our ‘feel good’ Sundays.
This is not ‘Shepherding Sunday’ where we reflect on that heart-warming image of the Good Shepherd looking after the sheep. This is not ‘let the little children come to me’ week (despite the fact that we’ve had a baptism today). This is a week where Jesus tells us a story that strikes at the heart of what religion is all about!
I do believe that all of us, deep down, have some instinctive sense that what God is on about is making sure that everybody gets what they deserve. And here’s a story from Jesus that says, ‘… think again!‘.
It’s a story about a landlord, more specifically a vineyard owner, and I get the impression from the story that this vineyard owner is a big vineyard owner, in charge of a very big vineyard that, come harvest, needs plenty of workers.
We’re not talking about a hobby farm here, nestled away in the Australian bush, where mum and pop have strung up a few vines in the days they have off between work and the bingo hall. We’re talking Henry Lindeman here - big man, big budget, big vineyard.
Come harvest this guy needs a lot of workers. No doubt he has a full-time staff, but come harvest this team is not enough. So he pops down to the dole office when it first opens, and then drives around the city square to see who is hanging around looking for work. You can see him gliding around the city square in his sport car convertible, leaning out the window, saying, “any of you boys want to come and work for me today?”
“How much?” the answer comes back. ’a hundred and fifty bucks”, says the boss. The boys look at each other and say, “no problem”. They start to move towards the car, but Lindeman says, “hey, you’re not getting in the convertible! I’ll send down one of our boys with a truck!”
These boys work hard, but Lindeman is looking at the progress and he’s thinking, ‘we need more hands’. So around lunchtime he does another circuit of the town square and pops by the dole office a second time.
The quality of labour this time is somewhat reduced. These are the guys who didn’t get up early to make a fresh start on the day. These are guys who had a big night the night before, or who slept in for some other not-very-good reason. Even so, Lindeman says, “you boys wanna work on my farm today?”, and plenty say ‘yes’.
It’s about four in the afternoon, and Lindeman is looking at the work going on and he’s thinking, ‘we’re never gonna get this finished in time’. So he gets in his convertible and makes yet another drive back to the dole office and back to the town square. He finds a few layabouts and addicts, standing around looking confused, wondering where all their mates are. He says, “you boys want some work for what’s left of the day?” And some of those who are left come.
Now, there’s been no discussion with these last guys as to how much they are going to get paid for their efforts, but they’ve been talking to the other guys.
Young Louie only got there an hour before dark, but he’s doing his sums. The boys who’ve been here all day are getting $150 for a ten-hour day. That’s $15 an hour. That means between me and Tony we’ll be able to afford a slab of beer tonight! He’s happy.
Then he collects his envelope and opens it. And he notices he’s got a couple of $50 bills in there and some smaller notes. Is he speaking up and saying, “hang on a moment! I think there’s been a mistake!” No way! He’s tucking that envelope tightly away in his pocket, grabbing his ghetto blaster with the other hand, and heading off back into town as quickly as his legs will carry him!