Reading I: Isaiah 55:6-9
Reading II: Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
GOSPEL: Matthew 20:1-16a

The Mystery of God’s Ways

In the readings today, we see a God who is mystery – whose ways are so beyond ours that we can’t understand, though we can see some of the results. Especially in a capitalistic society where people are supposed to be rewarded based upon their overall performance, the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard can be a very challenging one. We must be careful that we don’t try to confine God to our perspective. God can’t be put in a box. God’s much bigger than that.

Lack of Understanding Isn’t the Problem

We know that God is love; that God is all-knowing and all-powerful; and that God is merciful. But so often, we are dumbfounded by the things that God does! Like the laborers who had worked in the vineyard all day, only to be rewarded the same as those who worked only an hour, we don’t always understand God.

That’s not the problem, though. The problem is how we react to the fact that God’s ways are often different than our ways. We can’t necessarily change our understanding of the mystery that is God, but we can certainly change the way we respond to it.

Capitalistic Resentment

Looking at this parable as a hint of how salvation will be granted, it could make one think that there’s little value in leading a good, Christian life when all you really need to do is accept Jesus during your final hour. But obviously there are many other parts of the Bible that show the importance of following Christ throughout our lives – so it’s wrong to take this parable out of the greater context and hold it up as reason to live poorly.

The parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is a look at the mystery of God’s ways. Yet perhaps, more importantly for us, it really zeroes in on the fact that the workers who toiled all day resented those who had only worked for an hour. From our capitalistic perspective, we could easily fall into the same trap. We could resent those who are rewarded beyond what we deem as equitable.

Christ is Our Reward

In the second reading, the letter from Paul gives us the key. If we empty ourselves of all but Christ – if our lives reflect the Gospel message – then we will live with Christ in this life and in the next. And if we live with Christ in our hearts, we won’t resent anyone when God rewards them. We’ll accept it completely, knowing that God is mystery, but still trusting Him enough to place our lives in His hands.

Life Applications:

Who do you resent because of the way they seem to have been rewarded?
How do you feel about the fact that someone can live sinfully most of their lives and yet still be with God in the end?
What can you do to live the Gospel message on a daily basis?

Original article by Brandon Jubar, 2005 – 2020.
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