Today’s Gospel tells us the inspiring truth that the timing of our conversion does not matter.
Today’s Gospel tells the story of the Worker in the Vineyard, which just happens to be one of my favorite pieces of scripture. However, I don’t think I ever fully understood what Jesus was trying to tell us through it. As a child I thought it was about being generous, but now I see something much more meaningful.
Now scripture is up for interpretation, and God speaks to us each differently through various passages. However, today I truly believe what Jesus is trying to describe in this parable was an analogy for conversion. Many of us in today’s culture feel as though we must “earn” God’s love. In today’s Gospel this would translate to the people who followed God the longest would be loved more by Him than those who showed up to the party late. This idea rings true in the hearts of many Christians to this day. Those who have a colorful past and are more recent to the party feel as though they need to “make up for lost time” and those who have been there from the start feel as though they “deserve the lion's share” of God’s love. Today’s Gospel tells us the inspiring truth that the timing of our conversion does not matter. God gives us His full self no matter the time or place that we turn to Him. This gift of His entire self is also why those who have been dedicated their entire lives need not be upset when they see those who “haven’t worked as long as them” receive the same gift. He offers Himself in His entirety. There can be no dispute of “wages” because He gives us all that He has to offer us. Those who have worked the full day, rejoice in God’s generosity that others may bask in his glory and receive eternal life. Those who are new to the party, rejoice in the generosity our Lord has shown you but do not think of God as your coach who you have to earn respect from. God knows our weaknesses and offers us the full day's wage just the same. No matter the stage of life we turn to Him, we will never truly deserve a full day's wage. As I often say, it doesn’t matter if we deserve it, we just have to accept it and be ever grateful that He granted it to us.
The Nature of Parables
For much of my life, and still to this day, I have put work ethic and earning what is yours at the front of my mind. That’s why this story was so perplexing to me when I first came across it all those years ago. I don’t think anyone reading this does not at some point look at the vineyard owner and go “are you crazy?” I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but his philosophy on who gets paid what amount sounds preposterous in my opinion. Why wouldn’t the workers be paid according to the amount of hours they worked? This led me to my next insight of how Jesus used parables to describe the Kingdom of God. Have you ever noticed that the main character does something that no one else in that position would ever do? For example, the Parable of the Lost Sheep. The shepherd leaves his entire flock to go search for the one lost sheep. That sounds like an unwise decision to me personally and I can’t imagine any shepherd doing that in real life. Still skeptical? Another example of this is the Parable of the Lost Coin. A woman loses one coin, searches day and night to find it and upon finding it, calls all of her friends to come rejoice with her. Honestly, I’ve lost a lot of coins in my day, but I would never in a million years react in the way she did to losing and finding one. The examples are endless, Jesus uses these parables to describe the Kingdom of God because the nature of God’s love and mercy is beyond human comprehension. It is true that no one would react as these people in many of the parables did, but it is the only way Jesus can translate our God’s love and mercy into human words. To us, these people are crazy, but our God is truly crazy in the best way.