Matthew 20:1-16a | 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Our Slice of God’s Love
A few years ago in elementary Faith Formation we talked about God’s upside down kingdom—the idea that nothing in God’s eye is as humans think it ought to be. God is pretty much all about His way of doing things, not ours. The parable of the Workers in the Vineyard fits right in with His contrariness.
Why would Scripture instruct, “If any of you is not willing to work, let him not eat,” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 and many other), if that’s not how it works in the kingdom? That instruction certainly appears to be the opposite of what this parable preaches.
As is so often with God, the issue lies beneath the surface where humans can’t see. The heart is where God looks. This parable isn’t about the amount of work each group does. This parable is about the grumblings of the first group. They got what they deserved—fair pay for their work. They think that the others got better and that’s the rub. The first group isn’t anxious about their own pay, but they don’t like what they others have been paid. The question is why.
Maybe it’s because we’re all worried about someone else getting a better deal than we have. But why do we worry about that? God promised to take care of our needs. If my needs are met, why do I worry that He has met your needs plus a little? I think it’s because we all want proof that God loves us, and if you have more than I do, does that means He loves you more than me? Humans are creatures of comparison.
The funny thing is that any parent knows love is infinite. Parents with eight kids aren’t any more full of love than ones with an only. But every parent also knows the way we show love to each of our children is different—not in a quantifiable way but qualitatively. One kid needs more tough love—a series of pushes. Another needs more hand-holding and coddling. To the outside observer who tries to quantify love, it might appear that the child being pushed receives less love. But the parents in the relationships love each equally and want each to have what they need, even if the way they give the love looks different.
We’re the kids in our relationship with God, and we don’t always understand the way He demonstrates His love. But one thing we can count on for certain is that He loves us all equally—take infinity and divide it up among all humanity. That’s how much God loves each of us. That’s our slice of the love pie.
So why did the later workers get the same amount of pay of those who toiled all day? Only God knows. And we shouldn’t worry about it. He’s given us what He’s promised, and comparing our gifts with those of others will only lead us astray.