Welcoming as Many as Possible
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It’s not fair! That was the response of those in the parable who labored all day and received what they had been promised. They claimed it was unfair because they saw other workers coming in at the 11th hour and making the same daily wage as they, who labored all day. Jesus’ response was, “Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go.” He went on to say, “What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
If we were honest, many of us would have to admit that we sympathize with those who complained. Somehow it doesn’t seem right that those who worked eight hours get paid the same as those who labored only one hour. We are tempted to apply the “fairness” of wage and hour regulations to the situation in the parable.
But remember, the parable starts out with the words, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” This parable is not talking about civil fair labor standards, but rather about God’s mercy and his offer of life in the Kingdom of God. Those who come in at the first hour are the Jewish people and those who come in at the last hour are the pagan Gentiles.
The parable reminds us not to be covetous of the blessings others receive, even when those blessings seem to come with little or no effort on their part. We should be happy that they are blessed. It also reminds us that life in the Kingdom of God cannot be compared to life in the secular world. God’s Kingdom is not about “the haves” and “the have-nots,” but about welcoming as many as possible into the joy and blessing that God offers.
It was not the role of the People of Israel, and it is not the role of the Church, to be an exclusive group, coming up with ways to keep people out, but rather to be an instrument of God’s inviting love; to summon as many as possible to come to know His love and to reap the blessings that Jesus promises to those who put their hope in Him. Let’s welcome others and invite them to share in the blessings we have received.
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,