Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Daily Office Reflection: On Being Equal

Psalms: 101, 109:1-4(5-19) * 119:121-144; Numbers 16:16-50; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 20:1-16

In God's eyes we are all equal. That is made pretty clear today in the parable Jesus tells of the landowner hiring laborers for the vineyard.  This landowner paid the same wage whether the hired laborer worked all day or just one hour at the end of the day. 

Growing up I found a basic lack of fairness in this parable, often times agreeing with the individual who was first hired: Hey I was here first, I worked longer and harder then these other folks. I deserve more then they get! And that attitude is emblematic of how most of our culture works and has worked since Jesus told this parable 2000 years ago.

I remember also thinking, when I would hear this parable, how unfair it is for people to make deathbed conversions and be forgiven of all their misdeeds, while those who struggle everyday to live into the kingdom are given no special treatment at the end. How is that fair?

But as in all things Jesus says, there are multiple meanings in this parable. One of those is that Jesus expects us to see the world through different lenses then the ones we are accustomed to utilizing. The kingdom Jesus is proclaiming is radically different to what we expect, if we are basing those expectations on the familiar and the common. Everyone is invited into the kingdom and everyone who finds it, does so at their own pace, in their own manner. And at the end, all of us who work for the effectuation of the kingdom are equal in God's eyes, whether we worked one hour, one day or most of our lives. And there is a fairness here, because there is a great reward in working at moving the world toward the kingdom Jesus is proclaiming. And that reward is the work itself, for that work is not grunt work, or unnecessary, but a work of joy and love and an understanding of the world that is different from the general understanding of what fairness means. For it is never too late, nor is it ever too early, to be part of the kingdom of God, to be one with the one who created us and loves us, as we have been created.

Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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