As we listen to this gospel we are tempted to react and share the grumbles of the workers who have laboured since early morning. In human terms it seems unfair that after slaving all day in the hot sun they got the same pay as those who had been taken on in the final hour. If we get too worked up about the apparent injustice we miss the point Jesus is making. The parable is not dealing with equal rights for all or an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Its purpose is to show the generosity of God in throwing open the doors of heaven even to those who turn to God, ”quite late in the day”. God’s generosity attracts criticism and envy from those who thought they had an exclusive relationship with God, formed over a long history, or maybe over an individual life-time. This gospel fills us with an inspiring image of a generous, gracious God whose love for us has no limits and whose mercy reaches out BOTH to those who have kept steady all their lives in faithfulness to God AND those who have strayed and have found their way back to God or have been guided back by good people. Jesus tells us that all of these will meet God’s equal generosity, love and mercy.
Few of us have kept steady all our lives in absolute faithfulness to God. Most of us are among the ranks of those who have strayed in various ways and have got back on the track. All of us can place ourselves among the ”good people” who, by example, kindness and gentle encouragement, draw others into the arms of God’s love where true and lasting happiness is found. As the gospel shows us, it is never too late in the day.
With every blessing,
Kevin Donaghy PP