The Last will be First, and the First will be Last
Readings: 1st: Ez 34:1-11; Ps: 22; Gos: Mt 19:23-30
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today is the Wednesday of the twentieth week of ordinary time. In today’s gospel, Christ presents a dilemma through one of his parables on the kingdom of God. It suffices to note that this parable is found only in the gospel according to Matthew.
How could the employer pay everyone the same amount? Just as it would be for most of us today, it was difficult for the earlier (or first) group of workers to understand this.
However, the key to understanding the action of the owner of the vineyard in this parable, is in God’s word spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “My thoughts are not your thought, and my ways are not your ways” (Is 55:8-9).
What we see in action in the gospel today, is simply the justice of God. His justice is governed by his generosity and his unconditional love for all.
His action towards the last group of workers shows that he is not acting in accordance with strict rule of economics.
Rather, he is motivated by love and generosity towards all that responds to his invitation. To all of us, he has extended the same unmerited invitation.
To all, he will pay the same wage because his love is unconditional. His reward does not depend on when he called anyone, but on his generous, and unimaginable love for all.
What counts in God’s vineyard is not years of service, but diligence of heart as a chosen one. All men, no matter when they come in, are equally precious to God.
Therefore, God’s reward for all in His kingdom, is simply his grace that is extended to all those who responded faithfully to his divine invitation.
Finally, what matters is that the Lord is close to all who respond to his invitation. It does not matter how and when. His love is for all.
Peace be with you.