Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Working in the vineyard

In tomorrrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells the parable of workers in a vineyard. The workers contracted at the start of the day are promised the usual daily wage and all is well. But at the end of the day when they are paid they are furious. They are paid as promised, but in the meantime, the master of the harvest hired workers throughout the day and paid them exactly the same as those who worked throughout the long, hot day.

From Living Liturgy: Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis
for Sundays and Solemnities
grape vinesOur cultural perspective makes it difficult for us to hear this gospel because...our awareness of labor laws and our concern for wages disposes us to focus on the workers in the parable and on the manner of payment. But this is a parable about "the kingdom of heaven" (20:1), not about first century labor practices. What can we learn by focusing on the "kingdom" aspects of the parable?

First, notice that the landowner calls workers all day long. Though this may be seen simply as a plot device, it reflects the good news proclaimed by Jesus. God so desires people to share the life of the kingdom that God persistently invites people into the vineyard. In the parable it is the landowner himself—not a manager or other employee—who does the hiring. The landowner goes out five times to hire laborers, literally from "dawn" to "evening" (20:1, 8)...the kingdom is a gift which God is eager to share; indeed, more than merely eager, God is persistent in extending the invitation.

...those hired first are surprised at the landowner's generosity. But witnessing the landowner's generosity led them not to rejoice in such kindness, but to expect more for themselves. Though they agreed to their wage, they now wanted more than justice. But mercy and generosity are gifts: they are neither earned nor deserved. The mercy Jesus extends to tax-collectors and sinners who have only responded to God's call in this final hour is a gift of that mercy and generosity which characterizes God's kingdom. God deals justly with everyone, and generously with those in need.
Two items from the archives are a baptism sermon on this passage called One long day in the vineyard and the religion column How much sin is too much too forgive? on news that convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh had confessed his sins and received last rites. This story is also in our online coloring book.


  • At 11/10/2013 10:26 PM, Blogger Jon Javid said…

    good work. I also really like this other perspective on the laborers in the vineyard parable. it something I had never heard before but made complete sense


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