“Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” -Matthew 20:10-15
Apparently, capuchin monkeys prefer grapes to cucumbers. If there are two capuchin monkeys both are happy to eat cucumbers. But if you give one a grape and the other a cucumber slice, the non-grape getting monkey will flip out at the unfairness. Studies in children point to an innate sense of fairness, and so at a very young age children will insist on getting their fair share.
Our reading from Matthew for this Sunday challenges us to learn what the Kingdom of Heaven has to say about fairness. The parable of the laborers in the vineyard raises all sorts of questions. It seems natural to sympathize with the workers hired earlier in the day. Their outcry of “it’s not fair” seems reasonable, after all, they did more work. But their complaint is rebuffed by the landowner.
If fairness isn’t what we are supposed to seek, what is Jesus offering us? What does this parable teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven?
Join us this Sunday at 6 pm in the chapel at Trinity Commons as we gather for worship and together we can wrestle with this parable. Remember to wear a mask and use the online bulletin or bring your prayer book. You can also join us online via Zoom.