Gospel Matthew 20:1-16
“They took it, but grumbled at the landowner…’
Something in this story rubs us up the wrong way.
In fact, we are often pretty content to side with the disgruntled workers who had been working in the field since daybreak. Despite the fact that they were paid no less than what they’d agreed to, there is a sense of injustice at work here.
Jesus uses a unique method to communicate his point and invite his listeners to grapple with a truth far deeper than they perhaps have hitherto thought possible.
The apparent incongruity in the justice of God provides a profoundly educative moment.
For those who’d been working all day the gift already received, that of a day’s work and its coincident pay, is immediately taken for granted, such that rather than rejoicing with those who are also beneficiaries of the landowners generosity they are overcome with jealousy.
The attitude of the workers here reminds us of the older son in the story of the prodigal son. What Jesus seems to be pointing us to is an awareness of a fundamental reality.
It is all is gift.
Everything. From the invitation to work, to the pay at the end of the day. It is all gift.
In fact, the category of gift applies to creation itself. Nothing is exempted from God’s gratuity. Nothing (no-thing) exists without God’s gratuitous gift of creation.
What this means then is that the primary posture of the creature should first be one of receptivity, and thanksgiving.
Instead of the indignation at the equal pay for unequal amounts of work experienced by those who’d been working all day, Jesus advises them to check their privilege and to assume again a posture of joyful receptivity and thankfulness at the wonder of their capacity to participate in thein Being itself.