A reflection by Fr. Dave Warren, SFM, on Matthew 20.1 – 16
When I was a kid, I always looked forward to pie for dessert. We were seven in our family and Mom would divide it into what she thought were equal pieces. Inevitably, one of us kids would complain, “You got a bigger piece than I did!”
When it comes to pie, kids have the vision of an electron microscope. They are able to detect a difference of one millimeter between one piece of pie and another.
As we grow older, we lose our visual acuity. We also lose our belief that everyone should be treated equally. We start to believe that some deserve more than others. We start to believe that some deserve more than others because they have worked longer or harder than others. We start to believe that some deserve more than others because they have gone to school longer than others have. We start to believe that some deserve more than others because there is a greater demand for their skills and professions than there is for the skills and professions of others.
The parable of the labourers in the vineyard therefore comes as a shock. Spontaneously, we sympathize with those who have worked all day.
Why do we grumble with those who grumble but fail to rejoice with those who rejoice? Have we accepted the idea that some people deserve more than others? Have we lost our childhood belief that everyone should receive the same?
The parable of the labourers in the vineyard reminds us that we have absolutely no claim on God. On the other hand, we don’t have to earn God’s favour: God’s favour is free.