5 March 2023
As I was reading our text for today, I kept thinking of our moments of generosity that we’ve been sharing over the last few months.
Today we have yet another story to show us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. Now there some conversations whether the Kingdom of Heaven is like the story or just like the landowner in this story. Not sure where I sit with those ideas. One thing that is true is that the story we are given as an example of the Kingdom of Heaven is completely different to the way the world we know works.
This story can stretch of our knowledge and experience because of some of the details. I’ve read that in the US and other parts of the world, labourers still gather in marketplaces or town squares to pick up any casual work that might be going. It’s not something we’ve seen very much of, at least not in the cities or inner suburbs. These days, if we employ someone in any capacity at all there are forms to fill in, references to check, details of bank accounts and superannuation to be gathered, not to mention ensuring the workers are qualified and able to work.
When we read this passage, we know the ending, we know what to expect and we can almost say under our breath “watch out first employed, things are not as you think they might be.” Nothing much stands out in the processes that the landowner takes to hire his workers, he obviously has work that needs doing, it’s not until we reach the end of the day that things go far from normal.
We all like to be fairly treated, paid for whatever work we do fairly, be recognised for that work and to expect a wage for what we do. If the landowner had changed the order of how he paid his workers, the grumbling of the first employed would not have occurred. But because the landowner paid the last employed first and the first employed last there was a certain amount of expectation in the air as the first employed stepped up to get their daily wages.
As individuals we have no control over the generosity of others, and we certainly have no control over the generosity of God to us. Here each person was given what they needed, just as the Jewish people were given just what they needed in the way of manna and quail whilst in the desert. Perhaps this is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like – all will be given generously what they need, and no one will be left out? To me that sounds like a pretty good place to be. Imagine if that was the world today – what a difference that would make.