God’s ways are not our ways!
Jesus’ parable in Matthew 20:1-16 about a landowner paying his hard-working labourers who sweat and toil all day nothing more than those who have worked but a short while the same day does seem very unfair and unjust.
Do you not think they are right to expect a fair wage and just compensation for an honest day’s work?
And should we not, for our part, avoid any form of favouritism and unfairness in the workplace?
So the question here is was Jesus condoning unfair practices? Was the landowner trying to get other workers jealous or stir up the greedy nature in them? No!
Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that God’s thoughts are nothing compared to our thoughts nor His ways like our ways and As the heavens are high above the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts.
Jesus, was simply trying to get us to consider how extravagant God’s love and mercy can be.
How God repays each and everyone of us not according to our merits but according his desire.
How our human logic and divine logic are not always on the same wavelength; that salvation is a free gift and not something we can earn by human effort.
In Romans 11:33-34 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
Now let us consider the background to the work practices in Jesus’ time and hope it helps us grasp the point Jesus is trying to make a little more easily.
Most people in Palestine could not afford to set up their own business or learn a trade. Instead, they had to hire themselves out as day labourers. They would go to the market square each morning and wait for a landowner or steward to hire them for jobs, such as harvesting the fruit of the vineyard or field.
We can still see this practice today in Jerusalem where, early every morning men wait to be hired for work projects.
Where I was born, in Onitsha Anambra State Nigeria, I remember a place called Ogba mmanu where labourers would gather, register and in groups waiting to be hired by contractors for building or construction projects.
To stand idle all day without any work usually meant returning home empty-handed. And no money earned meant no food on the table. You know what that means for a man with family to feed. Because a hungry man they say is an angry man and thus families may be broken.
So when the owner of the vineyard in Jesus’ parable hired idle workers at the last hour of work, he was showing compassion for those who did not get hired by anyone else.
The owner did not want to see anyone who was willing to work return home with nothing.
That is why he gave them a full day’s wage, to ensure that they would have enough to sustain their families even for that day.
Friends, God is like this landowner. He does not want to see us suffer or in want.
He goes all out in search of us, at day break, at noon, evening or night.
He left the ninety nine sheep in search of one lost sheep.
His love, his generosity, his kindheartedness overcomes the logic of what we “deserve” and gives us instead what we “need”.
He does not just forgive us our sins and then tell us to try a little harder to do good. No, he lavished upon us the gifts of his kingdom, supplying not only what we lack but giving us more than we can expect.
So, Let us fill our hearts and minds with amazement and gratitude for this truth we have heard today! And believing that with prayer and patience, God will always find us at our point of need!
God is love, his love is boundless!
God is merciful, his mercy is beyond comprehension!
Let us Pray:
Lord your love knows no bounds! Your mercy is beyond comprehension. Fill our hearts this day with gratitude for the gifts you lavish upon us every day, every moment, every hour. Amen!
Happy Sunday 🤩
Fr. James Anyaegbu