“It’s not fair!”

25th Sunday, based on Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus said: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o”clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o”clock, he did the same. And about five o”clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o”clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 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? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Dr. Laura Dejmek, O.P.

About Dr. Laura Dejmek, O.P.

Laura is a single, Lay Dominican living in Chicago Illinois. Her life experiences include teaching elementary school music to children ages six through twelve. Laura is a regular ecumenical preacher at two Episcopal parishes in the suburbs of Chicago. She is the Promoter of Preaching for Lay Dominicans in the Central Province of the United States. Laura received her doctorate in ministry in preaching via the ACTS D.Min in Preaching program in Chicago. Laura received her Master of Divinity degree from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois with a double concentration in Biblical Studies and Liturgy. She is the first Master of Divinity student at Catholic Theological Union to complete this degree with a double concentration. In addition, to having a Master’s of Music, Laura is a classically-trained soprano.

2 thoughts on ““It’s not fair!”

  1. This is a reaction to Matthew 20: 1-16.When I read this on THE WORD WEBSITE this Sunday afternoon it struck me that this was the same text that was read to us as today’s gospel earlier this morning.
    I just want to say that I have read this Bible passage many times and I have heard it being read a lot of times as well, but I have always found it extremely difficult to understand its meaning.
    For one thing: in the world we live in nowadays it really sounds very unfair if an employer pays people who have worked for 12 hours the same amount of money as people who have worked for one hour.
    But what can the story mean then?

    It could mean (but I am not so sure about it) that Jesus wants to tell us with his story that in the Kingdom of heaven there will be people who have been admitted because they led very holy lives, but there will also be people in the Kingdom of Heaven who did not lead such holy lives but were admitted because God decided to forgive them their sins.
    But does that mean that practically all people, including very bad sinners, will ultimately be admitted into the Heavenly Kingdom? Does it mean that our God is a very lenient God? A God who forgives practically all sins of all people.
    The problem is that there are also many Bible passages which suggest that the road which leads to God’s Kingdom is a narrow road, a road that few people can follow to its end, a road on which many people lose their way.

  2. Friend,

    Hopefully, you were able to listen to the homily that went with this particular Scripture passage. The play button [like a sideways arrow > ] is just above the written Scripture passage. My preaching does—with the grace of God—attempt to “unpack” this Scripture parable.

    I think this parable raises difficult issues with which we all struggle—the idea of fairness and the knowledge that we are not to judge others.

    A resource that I have found very insightful is Parables for Preachers (cycle A) by Barbara E. Reid, O.P. (Collegeville MN: The Liturgical Press). There are three volumes (cycle A, B, and C) which discuss all of the Biblical parables.

    I hope this might be of help.

    God bless.

    Miss Laura Dejmek, O.P.

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