Monday, October 26, 2009

the dawn workers

Matthew 20:1-16

For me, the story of the vineyard manager is one of the most intriguing parables in the Bible. We know the story: the owner goes out early in the morning and hires the available workers for his vineyard. He then goes out again at nine, noon, three, and finally five o'clock. It's only with the first ones that he negotiates the daily wage; the rest he tells he will pay what is "fair".

Everyone lines up at the end of the day to be paid… and that's when it goes all wrong. What was he thinking? One of the first rules of management is the privacy of salary. It's why Christmas bonuses come in sealed envelopes. You don't walk around handing out the money so everyone can see what everyone else got. Because obviously the ones who work the hardest and need it the most get the least. We know that. We call it seniority. Or hierarchy. Or whatever. It's well ingrained. I was here first. I get the perks.

Only not in God's economy. The first will be last and the last will be first. Not fair! we scream.

I can relate to both groups because I have been in both positions. I have been the first to arrive and the last to leave from my job and was still fired because of someone's ridiculous political agenda. In my religious community I came very late in life, yet have been accorded the same honor as those who entered in their teens.

Not fair, we whisper. But do we ask why? Why is it fair after all is said and done?

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