For the 16th Sunday in Pentecost 2020, from Pastor Matthew:
The parable of the day labourers in Matthew is a tough one to take. Our modern day, capitalist sensibilities are deeply offended by the "unfairness" of it...But why?
Remember that we should never find the easy allegory by which to insert ourselves in the parabolic narrative. On the one hand, it's impossible since the sociological-historical reality that surrounds and informs these stories cannot possibly be internalized by we modern, western people and on the other hand, informed by our often exaggerated sense of self, we usually insert ourselves in the wrong place anyway.
This parable is not necessarily about those who do the work it is about the one who gives out the wages. In this case, the traditional reading is that the "wages" are eternal life and the landowner is the God who causes the rain (reign) of that eternal life to fall on the just and the unjust alike. God, the Landowner, wants abundance for all no matter where they fall on the spectrum of entitlement. God, the creator of everything, has a habit of showing extravagant grace (the giving of what is not deserved) and practicing long-suffering mercy (withholding what is deserved) to all of God's children.
The learning here I think, is that when we are labourer we are to be grateful for what is given, we are to celebrate what is given to others and we are not to imagine that there is any privilege that entitles us to more than anyone else AND, when we find ourselves in the position of the landowner, we are to be extravagant in our generosity in the way that God is extravagant with every blessing, most especially with those who we judge to be unworthy of that generosity. pax