Are you envious because I am generous? – Mt. 20: 15

   This is one of the more difficult parables to relate to because it seems to contradict our sense of fairness. As usual, our Lord is trying to get us to think outside the box of ordinary human expectations.  Day laborers do not have a standing with a permanent employer but are dependent everyday on a call. If they do not get hired, they do not work. This reflects the spiritual condition of people before God. We have no claims on God, but each day God calls us to work in the world.

   If we work for God day by day, God sustains our life day by day. The economic acts of saving & hoarding signify the delusion that we are self-sufficient, capable of living outside God’s love. They may be quite necessary in the everyday of our earthly life, but do not obtain with reference to God.

   Notice that the earliest group hired is promised the “usual daily wage.” Those hired at 9 AM, Noon, & 3 PM are told only that they will receive “whatever is right.” Finally, the last group hired is told nothing about what they will receive. The fact that the last group hired is paid first & so on down to the first group hired reinforces the dictum “The last will be first.”

   The point being made is that comparative thinking is inadequate when dealing with spiritual reality. In God’s vineyard everyone is rewarded equally with eternal life, which is beyond price. From the Lord’s point of view, what matters most is not what you get but that you work in the vineyard. What is paramount is the work. The real problem is idleness in the marketplace & the Lord of the vineyard is shameless in the multitude of ways He calls people to do His work.

   To be idle is to be unaware of or fail to comprehend that larger reality that permeates our physical, mental & social life. What God is calling us to is to join Him in harvesting a new human reality. To accept the call is to no longer live in the envious world of comparison.

   There are times in this busy, dizzy world, when the Christian faith, indeed the whole religious enterprise, seems irrelevant & out-of-place. There are times when the whole world seems to be laughing at Jesus & His followers who propose that the number one priority in life is not to satisfy personal greed but to satisfy our brother’s need. In the Christian ministry of loving service lies the true “La Dolce Vita” – the sweet life. Only in a ministry of service can we discover the secret of joy.  AMEN!