The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

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Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time


Matthew 20:1-16 

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, your magnanimity knows no bounds. Grant that I may know you, so that knowing you I may love you more fully and follow you more faithfully.


Encountering Christ:


  1. Unique and Personal Magnanimity: When we reflect on God’s attributes as revealed in the parables, we do not always see ourselves as the beneficiaries of such goodness. We can remain on the abstract level in our prayer. God is generous to all, to humanity in general. But to us personally? Absolutely! How many times he has forgiven us, strengthened us, enlightened us! Which worker in the vineyard are we? Have we come early in the day to labor in his vineyard, and so now expect great recompense, or do we labor with a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to serve? Have we come into the vineyard later, procrastinating and reluctant? Or do we now rejoice in his goodness as he rewards us with blessings?
  2. His Heart, My Heart: God waits for each soul to enter his vineyard with infinite patience. He invites us constantly to participate in his life and his mission. God celebrates each soul who enters. But we can be quick to mete out judgment upon those who have delayed. Let us reflect in this parable on the heart of the Father and pray that we may have a heart like his, one that anticipates with hope the coming of others into the vineyard, and rejoices in the beneficent goods that the Lord desires to pour out on all.
  3. “The Last Will Be First, and the First Will Be Last”: Jesus desires that we understand this fundamental truth. Humility is the prerequisite to entering into his Kingdom. No matter where we come from, whatever our past, recognizing his welcoming arms and the gift he readily bestows on us wins us a great reward. This is humility: living in the truth of who we are before God and who God is for us. Humility allows us to take first place in his eyes because we acknowledge that we have been received into God’s grace, and that everything is an undeserved gift.


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, pour out your blessing on all whose hearts are hardened: those who refuse to welcome you into their lives, those who say they are Christian but do not live with your generous and merciful heart, and me when I close myself off to rejoicing with you for your bountiful goodness.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on the attitudes of my heart, trying to see all the blessings you offer me.


For Further Reflection:


Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”

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