A Harvest for Everyone

The Parable of the Vineyard

‘The kingdom of the heavens is like a human being, a master of his house, who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing on a denarius a day, he sent them into the vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw other workmen standing idle in the marketplace and he said to them, “You too, go into the vineyard, and I will give you a fair wage. And they went. And about the sixth and ninth hour he did the same. When he went out about the eleventh hour he saw yet others standing there; and he said to them, “Why do you stand here idle all day?” They said, “Because no one has hired us.” He said, “You, too, go into the vineyard.” And when the evening came, the master of the vineyard said to his steward, “Call the workmen and give them their wages; begin with the last, then the others until you come to the first. ” So those who had been hired about the eleventh hour came forward, and each of them received a denarius. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received a denarius each. They took it, but they grumbled at the master of the house and said, “They came last and have only worked one hour, yet you have make them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” Then he said to one of them, “Friend, I am not doing you an injustice. Did we not agree on a wage of a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I wish to give to these last as I give to you. Am I not free to do as I wish with what belongs to me? Do you give me an evil look because I am good? Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.”

~Matthew 20: 1-16

Idleness is a tragic condition. There is a certain “untruth” in it because it causes people to feel superfluous or unnecessary. The only people who really enjoy being idle are those who could do otherwise, or those who are resting from work.

All labor is taking up earth’s substance or the experience of being human (as with poets and writers) and making it useful or beautiful for the good of humanity. That’s it. That is all we’re really doing.

The harvest of our labor does not belong to us, nor should it; just as the grapes do not belong to the laborers. They serve a “higher ” purpose for the good of many.

We could say that the steward who hired the laborers, saved them from idleness and gave them a purpose.

Nature does not provide vineyards. They require human intervention, planting, pruning and care all year long. We have to work with what God gives us to produce a harvest which goes far beyond the needs of those who help to produce it.

The laborers also do not work for nothing. They each receive a denarius, something of value for each of them as individuals. They receive an “independence,” a whole self for which they are responsible. The value and worth of each human being is the same in the eyes of God.

Today we are working toward a “harvest” that will come about in the future, where every human being will be recognized as having equal “value” with everyone else.  We are moving, however slowly, to recognize this truth. We are not just here on earth for our own self interest. We are here to produce a harvest which will benefit everybody. We are the laborers who, without the presence of Christ in our lives, would have no purpose. All of the money in the world cannot give us that.

by Carol Kelly

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