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Summary: THE WAY IN WHICH WE BEHAVE TOWARDS OTHERS IS IMPORTANT FOR OUWN LIVES. THIS PARABLE INDEED REPRESENTS THIS.

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Proper 20 by: Seminarian Reginald Knight

Sunday September 21, 2014.

St. Mary’s Anglican Church (The Diocese Of Barbados)

Matthew 20: 1-16

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Proper 20 by: Seminarian Reginald Knight

Sunday September 21, 2014.

St. Mary’s Anglican Church (The Diocese Of Barbados)

Matthew 20: 1-16

………………………………………………………………………………….

In today’s Gospel, Jesus expounds on the kingdom of heaven, saying it’s like a landowner who hired laborers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each the daily wage, a denarius, and they set off to work.

But at 9:00, the landowner saw some folks hanging around, and hired them, agreeing to pay “whatever is right.” He did the same at noon. And 3:00. And even 5:00.

When evening came and all the workers were called together, the sweat glistening on the foreheads of the exhausted dawn-risers who had worked twelve hours. The vineyard owner told the manager to pay them all, beginning with the last and moving to the first.

And get this: he paid the ones hired last, one full denarius, a whole days wage!

But then the workers hired at 3:00 get paid the same. So does those at noon. And, finally, us hard-workers. All the same.

These last workers complained to the landowner, “What’s up with this! The last worked only one hour, but you have paid them the same wage as those of us who worked through the scorching heat of the day. That’s preposterous! It ain’t right.”

And the owner calmly replied, “But did I not pay you exactly as we had agreed? I have done no wrong; I just chose to give to the last the same as I give to you.” And then here’s the kicker, “Are you envious because I am generous?”

And we know the ending. Jesus says, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”

According to Arland J. Hultgren

“The parable is a parable of the kingdom of heaven (or reign of Go). By means of it Jesus ILLUSTRATES God’s way of reigning in grace. It contains a surprise ending, in which there is equal pay for all of the workers, which is undeserved by those who had been hired later in the day than those who had worked all day. The parable surely does not make an economic prescription; its outcome is untypical of ordinary life, and that is what makes it memorable”.

In this parable we are confronted with a group of people who felt that they were superior to those who came after them. They wanted these others to be treated differently. They were angry when they saw that these others were receiving the same pay as they received themselves.

This is the kind of situation in which we often find ourselves. We all belong to some group or organization which is separated from the people of another group: in the school system, society and even in the church today. We are tempted to feel superior to those of the other group. Attached to this belief is the expectation of certain rights and privillages that others do not or should not have access to.

As much as we talk about all secondary schools being on the same level, there are those who will only feel a sense of achieving when their child attains a pass for what we consider to be more prestigious schools. This is further projected by the notion that the best or the highly qualified / skilled professionals would be found in these places, who will be the ones to deliver quality teaching.

In our churches there is this notion that only a certain class of person should attend a particular church eg; the parish church or the cathedral, that only a certain type of person should join a particular organization or a person whose naval string has been buried in the churches backyard, has the greater say in the church than the person who has been in the pew for only a short time and who in some cases believes that the priest is answerable to them and them alone.

Today’s gospel in so many ways, defines in a most gracious way God’s generosity and God’s justice which runs in contradiction to our own sense of generosity and justice.

All of us in here are very sympathetic to the workers who came early and worked hard. We are already mulling over the process in our minds and deliberating the fact that if our bosses were to pull a stunt similar to the one in the parable, we would go to our Union representative and demand that something be done about the matter.

But think about it. If we were in the position of the labourers who came late and were paid the same as the ones who had put in more time and effort, wouldn’t we be very grateful indeed? After all, wouldn’t we have just as many bills to pay or more than the ones who had arrived early?

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