Vineyard workers: reflection

What Can We Say. Patricia Datchuck Sánchez writes:

“Like most scriptural texts, this parable also should be evaluated and appreciated with regard for its various levels of development. At its initial or basic level, the parable defended Jesus’ missionary methodology of reaching out to extend the blessings of the kingdom to tax collectors and sinners. Whereas his contemporaries believed these to be pariah with no claim to salvation, Jesus’ words and works indicated that sinners were not only on equal footing with the righteous but were in fact the ones to whom God manifested special love and mercies.” Continue reading

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In Maria’s wake

In thinking about this morning’s gospel, I begun to muse about the women in Jesus’ life and public ministry. The ones mentioned today, the ones at the foot of the cross, the ones who helped to grow and sustain the nascent Christian church. I have always wondered if those at the foot of the cross – those who witnessed the horrific death of Jesus – saw the Resurrection with different eyes and heart. Was it different to have been at Gethsemane, run away, heard about the crucifixion, and then be there in the upper room to witness to the resurrected Jesus? Was it different from those who saw the fullness of His suffering and death and to experience in their hearts what it truly meant to conquer death? Continue reading

Vineyard workers: assumptions

Caught in the Midst of Assumptions. It is interesting that it is the “manager” or “steward” (epitropos), not the owner, who calls the workers and “gives them their pay/reward” (misthos). They are the ones who dispense what the owner considers right and just. They are also the ones who take the flak from those who disagree. I think we can all relate to being the one thrust into the middle of something not necessarily of our own making. Continue reading

Vineyard workers: daily wage

1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.  2 After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.  3 Going out about nine o‘clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,  4 and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’  5 So they went off. (And) he went out again around noon, and around three o‘clock, and did likewise.  6 Going out about five o‘clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’  7 They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’  Continue reading

Vineyard workers: more context

Long (Matthew, Westminster Bible Companion) writes concerning the rich man story, which also applies to our text: “… we must realize that, when the young man encounters Jesus, two very different worlds collide: this world, with all its prevailing customs and values, and the radical new way of life called for in the kingdom of heaven.” [p. 220]

This radical life comes at a price. Peter understands that and so he asks, “what about us who have already given up everything,” Jesus points to the life within the kingdom and then concludes that the called-for reversal will also be evident in the order of blessing on entering the kingdom: “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Mt 19:30) Continue reading

Vineyard Workers: context

1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.  2 After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard….

In the Matthean narrative we are firmly ensconced in the midst of Jesus’ instructions, not of the crowds, but of the disciples, preparing them for not only his death and resurrection, but also for their mission to world. In other words Jesus is preparing them to be disciples – and preparing them to serve the new People of God being formed. Continue reading

What equals 9?

An accelerated bulletin schedule due to Hurricane Irma, a deadline moved up, and busy about hurricane prep, left me without a fresh idea for this week’s pastor column. But some recent events made me recall this previous column which I again offer for your consideration.

One of the interesting things about “blogging” is what happens off-line. WordPress has a feature for “comments” and it is a controllable feature. You can allow all comments and then remove inappropriate ones as you see fit. But then that means you have to monitor it constantly. Sometimes manners and charity are not hallmarks of text and comments left behind. It takes time. Not willing to dedicate time to the supervising task? The blog administrator cannot allow any comments at all. That takes no additional time to oversee. There is at least one “middle way.” You can allow comments but require that all comments be approved before they are posted on one’s blog. That takes some time, but you have the luxury of getting to such things when you have time. Continue reading

Forgiving: the debt

24 When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.25 Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.26 At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’27 Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. Continue reading

Forgiving: the parable

Parable of the Debtors in context. 23 That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. The parable which makes up most of the rest of the discourse underlines the principle of unrestricted forgiveness which Jesus has just enunciated. Most of Matthew’s parables are introduced as illustrations of “the kingdom of heaven” (13:11, 24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 52; 20:1; 22:2; 25:1). Here that formula is especially appropriate, since the parable concerns a king and his subjects:  this then is how God rules. That application of the story will be made explicit in v. 35: the king’s action represents how “my heavenly Father” will deal with you. Continue reading

Forgiving: how much

The verses leading up to our passage (vv.15-20) outline the manner in which the individual and the faith community are to deal with the incorrigible members caught in the life of sin. Our gospel follows upon that “last resort” in dealing with this individual, which the earlier approaches have been designed to avoid.  To “tell the church” in the first centuries was often a public statement when the community is gathered, something inevitable if the problem is not solved in conversation. The object of the gathering is not to pronounce judgment but to strengthen the pastoral appeal, in the hope that the offender may yet “listen” (akouo). Continue reading