Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 29 July |
Saint of the Day: Sts Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

The fairness of a just God

Fr. Dan Daly, S.J. - published on 08/17/16

Our Lord does not love us more because of our labors

The foreman shook his head in disbelief as he saw the landowner escort two more workers onto the property. It was nearly evening and these two were just getting started. The foreman wrote down their names and hurried them out to the vineyard to help collect the baskets of grapes.

“Where did you find those two?” the foreman asked the owner.

“Sitting in the city square, looking like they just rolled out of bed,” the landowner replied. “I don’t know how their wives put up with them! Those poor fellows can’t even imagine something satisfying to do with their lives.”

“They’ll hardly break a sweat before it’s quitting time. How much do you want to pay them?”

“A denarius, just like everybody else,” the owner instructed.

“They hardly deserve a full day’s pay,” the foreman pointed out.

“You’re right, but they and their families still need to eat.”

“If word gets out about your kindness, we’ll have all sorts of workers looking to join the late afternoon crew.”

“True, but others will arrive bright and early in the morning, even when they know they won’t get paid any more.  And that, my friend, is a marvelous thing!”

Word has gotten out about God’s kindness. Jesus knew it was going to be hard to keep it secret when he started telling stories like this. God has a great big heart and he cares about all his children, even those whose performance leaves something to be desired. We do not need a résumé chock full of good deeds to be part of God’s Kingdom. We just need to say “yes” when God extends the invitation.

This message might be a little discouraging to those of us who try to work hard and live good lives, to be kind, generous and forgiving. We can sympathize with the workers who gathered grapes in the hot sun all day long only to receive the same pay as those who rolled in at 5:00. We might ask ourselves, “What is the point of trying so hard if it does not make any difference?”

Of course, it does make a difference. The early-morning workers gathered lots of grapes during the day, grapes that could be pressed into wine or enjoyed fresh. Without workers to harvest them, the grapes would simply shrivel on the vine.

Our efforts make a difference, too. The world desperately needs love and faithfulness, patience and joy. God delights when we offer such gifts. But he does not love us more because of our labors. No matter how much we do, we still get paid the usual daily wage.

That allows our efforts to be our thanks to God. We recognize that God offers to us far more than we deserve. He has been more than fair, and we are incredibly grateful for it. We happily join the early-morning crew out in the fields, honored to have the opportunity, and delighted to be able to offer to God our small gift in return.

For the Mass readings for August 17, click here. To learn more about the painting of the workers in the vineyard, click here.

Author’s note:  Jesus told us a parable about laborers in a vineyard and invited us to ponder its meaning. In reflecting on the passage I use my imagination to fill in the details.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
Joachim and Anne
Philip Kosloski
Did Jesus know his grandparents?
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.