Gospel / Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
“Better late than never” is a phrase that applies to our Faith walks. Jesus reminds us this week that it’s not up to us to decide who is forgiven or how long they sinned compared to us before they accepted Christ in their hearts. The focus is the “acceptance” of Christ – not the “when” it happened. Good Friends of ours’ had a Father who, after his Wife’s death, fell back into the darkness of alcoholism. He would yell at my Friends to leave him alone and to take their Jesus with them when they left. He was in a tough spot for sure. This went on for over 20 years, but our Friends kept helping their Father even after a predator had taken all of their inheritance (through legal channels) from the Family. Finally, their Father was lying in a hospital staring death in the face. As usual, he yelled at everyone in the room to get the hell out of there. Just before the door closed behind them, he yelled for his Daughter to come back in alone. She honored her Father and did what he said. He looked her straight in the eyes and confessed that he was scared and needed to be Saved before it was too late. In his last moments, she introduced Jesus to his heart – just in a nick of time. She honored her earthly Father and, in turn, honored her Holy Father. She saw the Dad that she loved for one last moment before Jesus took him Home. And, even with all of the ugly wake that he had left behind him, we all remember when he asked for Him.