Jesus told a story about a landowner who hired workers at different times of the day and at the end of the day paid them all the same amount of money. Some were happy and some were angry. The Lord said that the story represents the kingdom of heaven.
Obviously there will be some people who will be happy for all eternity and some who will be angry. If we want to be with the happy crowd then there can be no room for resentment in our heart. All hatred, bitterness, prejudice must be healed before payday. When we approach the landowner, who is Jesus Christ, what others are paid is none of our business; our personal relationship with Christ is all that will matter. The comparison game is still popular—sells products—causes envy, starts wars. Some of the global unrest is a result of competitive comparison. “Your gun is bigger than our gun. Our rockets are bigger than your rockets. We are stronger, so we are better than you.” Any time that we focus our attention on the incidentals we loose sight of the vision. The vision is to get to heaven—to love the landowner. One of the biggest mistakes that we make is to think of ourselves as the landowner. “My land, my property, my family.” We own nothing! Everything is borrowed. We are the workers, but not the owners. People are treated differently according to their bank account. Titles, degrees, bloodlines—they will mean nothing when we come face to face with the landowner. The landowner will be interested in just one thing, as we read in another part of St. Matthew’s Gospel: How we treated the least among us. “Whatever we did or failed to do for the least among us we did or failed to do for the landowner.”
The stories that Jesus told have a “twist”—a surprise ending. Our God is the God of surprises—the unexpected. The workers standing in line to get paid at the end of the day never expected to get the same pay. Those who worked only one hour were delighted. Those who had worked all day were furious. Why? Because we want God to think like we do. We even think that God takes sides. And we sing, God bless America, but perhaps are thinking, only America. How many times have we heard people say, “God is going to win our war”? How often have we thought that God favors certain football teams? Look at the stories. Usually the least expected are the ones who win.
At the center of our gut—the stories don’t feel good. From childhood we have been conditioned to think that we get what we deserve. The majority of Christians are busy trying to earn their way to heaven. They haven’t listened to the stories! They haven’t accepted the Good News that we are already saved by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Everything that we do, all that we are is in response to unconditional love. That’s why the workers could not accept what seemed an unjust treatment. The landowner loved them all. He called them at different hours of the day—gave them a job—and at the end of the day gave them all His generosity. Mark well, let the message sink in—that is the only way that any of are going to get to heaven—on the generosity of the landowner. Because are workers we have all failed. We slack off, we get distracted, we get greedy. But we are still here. We haven’t been fired. The landowner has faith in us. Perhaps we loose faith in Him; but He never looses faith in us. Regardless of badly we’ve done our work, truth be told, He would hire us again—knowing our weaknesses—He would hire us again.
The goal is to work together—to not to be jealous of each other. We will all get much more than we deserve.