All of the Scripture readings for this Sunday offer us points for pondering but certainly one of the best is found in that surprising gospel text from Matthew 16 about the workers in the vineyard who get a surprise at the end of the day. I speak, of course, of the ones who have been working all day, seeing more and more people added to the workforce as the day progresses. When those hired for the last hour are paid first and receive the wage agreed upon for the whole day, the early workers get excited, expecting more money. The surprise is that they get just what they agreed on – the same as the latecomers.
The line that is often quoted from this text says, “The last will be first and the first last.” Much more significant, I find, is the question from the landowner to those surprised and disappointed ones. He asks, “Are you envious because I am generous?”