Equal Work/Equal Pay? Grace and Mercy ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI
Reading 1: IS 55:6-9
R Psalm: PS 145: 2-3, 8-9,17-18
Reading 2: PHIL 1: 20C-24, 27A
Gospel: MT 20:1-16A
If we look at today’s Gospel reading of MT 20:1-16A, Jesus is telling us about the Parable of the labourers in the vineyard. This was in response to the question asked by Peter in MT 19:27: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Peter was asking Jesus what reward would be given to those who give up everything in their lives to follow him. Today’s Gospel reading is the response about the truth of His Kingdom.
As you can imagine, working in a vineyard, especially in first century Israel would’ve been extremely hard toil in the heat of the summer and often extra workers were taken on to ensure the work was done. We read in the the Parable today that Jesus is telling us that some of the labourers who had toiled all day, were paid the same as those who were called maybe to work only the last hour of the day.
There was envy and anger about this as the workers who had toiled all day thought they would be paid more. So why did the landowner decide to pay the full day wage to all regardless of when they started work and what is this telling us in our christian lives today?
The landowner was being fair, keeping his promise of reward and was showing mercy to the other workers.
Our Lord God has fairness, keeps his promise and has mercy. God gives his grace and mercy abundantly upon those of his choosing. “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’. It does not, therefore, depend on men’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (ROM 9:15-16).
God gives His grace and mercy to those whose self-righteous works could not possibly obtain it. “We are all sinful and fall short of the glory of God” (ROM 3:23), but God’s grace is sufficient to redeem all who believe and serve his ways.
It matters not whether we are called into the Lord’s service either early or later in life to partake of His grace. The glory and praise of our salvation is His and His alone.
As Christians and children of God, we should rejoice in the service which others give to our Lord. He is faithful and will reward us as he has promised.
The message we are being given in verse 16 today, “The last will be first, and the first last,” is telling us that no matter at what stage in life we are called to His service, the reward of eternal life and salvation will be given to all who follow and serve Him. An example of this is the thief on the cross in (LK 23:39-43), whose life was limited to a moment of repentance and confession of faith to our dear Lord Jesus, and he received the same reward of eternal life as given to all the Apostles and saints.
Eternal life shall be granted to all who serve, confess their faith and who follow the ways of the Lord. This is given by the grace and mercy of our Lord and God because of his promise to all who truly serve him. This is the important message that still holds true and is relevant to our lives today.
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