How God Calls at Different Times and Why We Need Mercy
User’s Guide to Sunday, Sept. 24
This is one of those parables that challenges our worldly way of thinking. That is one of its purposes. We are tempted to side with the laborers who worked the longest, thinking that their being paid the same amount as those who worked only for an hour is unfair. Think very carefully before asking God to be “fair.” What we need is mercy! hose parables that challenges our worldly way of thinking. That is one of its purposes. We are tempted to side with the laborers who worked the longest, thinking that their being paid the same amount as those who worked only for an hour is unfair. Think very carefully before asking God to be “fair.” What we need is mercy!
Let’s consider this parable as it relates to discipleship.
A landowner went at dawn to hire laborers to work in his field. He asks, “Why do you stand here idle?” These day laborers were men who stood in public places hoping to be hired for the day. It was and still is a tough life. If you worked, you ate; if you didn’t, you might have little or nothing to eat. Men like these were and are the poorest of the poor. Notice, however, that their poverty, their hunger, makes them available. Each morning they show up and are ready, available to be hired. Their poverty also motivates them to seek out the landowner, who is God. Poverty makes these men available; because their cup is empty, it is able to be filled. We are these men, even if we don’t know it. Yes, we might pray for a trouble-free life, but then where would we be? Would we seek the Lord? Would we ever call on him?
The landowner said, “Go into my vineyard” — it is the landowner who calls the shots. Too many who call themselves the Lord’s disciples rush into his vineyard with great ideas and grand projects that they have never really asked God about. This passage teaches us that entrance into the vineyard requires the owner’s permission. If we expect to see fruits (payment for the work) at the end of the day, we have to be on the list of “approved workers.” Scripture says, “Unless the Lord builds the House, they that labor to build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
The vineyard owner came at dawn, 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. God calls some early and others late; it’s none of our business. He calls at different times. Even those whom he calls early are not always asked to do everything right now. There is a timing to discipleship.
When it was evening, the owner gave them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first. Notice that the wages are paid in the evening. The lesson is simple: We’ve got to stay in the vineyard. Some people start things but do not finish them. If you’re not there at the end of the day, there’s no pay. The same applies to the spiritual life.
Those hired first grumbled, saying, “We bore the heat of the day.” The workers hired early think of their entrance into the vineyard and its labors as a “burden.” The vineyard, of course, is really the kingdom of God. Many lukewarm “cradle Catholics” consider the faith to be a burden; they think that sinners “have all the fun.” Never mind that such thinking is completely perverse; it is held by many anyway, whether consciously or unconsciously.
But being a Christian is not a burden.
If we accept it, we receive a whole new life from Christ: a life of freedom, purity, simplicity, victory over sin, joy, serenity, vision and destiny.
How do you view the Christian life? Is it a gift, or is it a burden?