Matthew 20: 1-16
Today’s story, the parable of the laborers, is one of those stories of forgiveness so radical that it may offend our concept of forgiveness.
Equal pay for equal work is fair; equal pay for unequal work is not fair. Rewarding those who do the most work is fair; rewarding those who do the least is not fair. Treating everyone the same is fair; treating everyone the same when they are not the same is not fair.
It may be true that our life may not be fair, so we all expect that God should be.
God should be the one authority whom we count on to reward people according to our effort. God should be the one who keeps track of how long we have worked and how hard we have worked. God should be the one who polices the line, making sure everyone stays where she or he belongs, so that the first remain first and the last wait their turns at the end of the line.
But it is not so, according to today’s passage. What today’s story tells us about God is the householder who puts the same amount of money into an envelope and instructs his steward to pass them out beginning at the end of the line, with those who arrived last and worked least.
The most curious thing about this parable for me is where we locate ourselves in line. Depending on where we are in the line, our response would be quite different.
This story would be good news for those who are in the end of the line, but it would be a harsh story for those who are in the front of the line. However, isn’t it interesting that 99 percent of us hear it from the front of the line?
God may not be fair in today’s passage, but depending on where we are in line, that can sound like powerful good news.
Because if God may be not fair, then, there is a still a chance we will get paid more than we are worth, that will get more than we deserve, that we will make it through the doors even though
we are last in line—not because of who we are but because of who God is.
Thanks be to God.