bible blog 1206

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This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:


Matthew 20:1-16

New English Translation (NET)

Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the marketplace without work. He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day without work?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go and work in the vineyard too.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. 10 And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ 13 And the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. 15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.

living wageThis is a comic parable which exposes human opposition to God’s generosity. God’s rule gives all their daily bread because all need it; God gives all his saving goodness because all need it. Human beings, as for example in their employment habits, will leave some people without daily bread; and in their religions habits will leave others without saving goodness, because they are not committed to the generous equality of God. Already Jesus saw through the specious nonsense of the British Government that everyone has a chance to work and earn a livelihood. There are those who will still be waiting for work in the evening and beyond; there will be those who are unable to work, but they all need a living wage for each day. Cynics look at the story and say that this employer will have a problem getting anyone to turn up on time the next day. Well, it is just a story and its main import is not economic but religious. People who had kept the commandments and religious obligations all their lives might well look askance at the sinners and collaborators who flocked to Jesus. Maybe it was OK to receive them as penitents who’d seen the error of their ways, but to welcome them into full goodness of God, was outrageous! What about

Jesus and outcasts

Jesus and outcasts

the righteous who’d borne the hardship and burning heat of the day? For them, Jesus has no sympathy. Speaking for God, he says, “Are you envious because I’m generous?”

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