Today we have that great but difficult parable of the workers in the vineyard. (MT 20:1-16) The ones who have worked all day are last in line to get their pay and see those who have been only working for an hour getting what they themselves had been promised for the whole day’s work. It seems they are excited wondering how much more they will get than the agreed upon amount. What a surprise when they receive exactly what they were promised in the beginning! They are, to say the least, not happy. Exclamations like, “It’s not fair!” come to mind. Once again Jesus is trying to wake people up to a different way of living. The core of the lesson is in the landowner’s question to the disgruntled workers: Are you envious because I am generous?
Are we happy at the good fortune of others or are we always comparing whose piece of pie is bigger or who got the most notice for the job we did together? This is truly a hard saying for those of us for whom this flies in the face of the work ethic with which we were raised. But it’s time for a new paradigm! If we come to recognize that all is gift in our lives, we won’t be spending time on “tit-for-tat” living or evaluation of whether or not everything is fair. If we come from a place of abundance in our living rather than from scarcity we will quickly learn that life is not a competition but, as one of my housemates sees it, a huge sandbox where we all learn to play together sharing everything with anyone in need. If we live in the conviction that God is Love, we will find ourselves embraced in a universe of care where we understand that whatever we have, as long as we have God, our lives are always enough.