In theology we learned about the so-called “bedtime conversion.” When somebody is dying and made a perfect contrition, we believe, he/she would be saved no matter how sinful his/her life has been.
Today’s gospel presents to us a parable which appears scandalous to many good Christians because the parable offers a clear picture of God who is unfair and unjust too. Reading the parable for the first time would lead us to the conclusion that there is certainly an unfair labor practice. But the story should be read from a different angle. In this parable, Jesus wants to give an important lesson on the generosity and love of God which are offered as pure gifts or as free gifts to all of us. Generosity means that we rejoice in the success and good fortune of others. The blessings that they receive reveal God’s goodness. And what is envy? “Envy,” somebody said, “is a kind of spiritual sickness that restricts the heart so that it cannot rejoice in the good of others, much less, gives to them. And so therefore, as children of God, we have to be happy because we have a God who is:
First, He is eager to fill His heaven with people. We have a God who wants to save us and not condemn; a God who, at the very last hour, is still saving souls. In other words, His offering of salvation is accessible to all. This Parable of the Vineyard Workers could be renamed as the Parable of the Good Employer, for what Jesus is stressing is the Father’s merciful love and generosity, a love that seeks desperately to save men and women and give them the dignity of God’s children.
Second, He is eager to save us His children. But this salvation is not transmitted by radio waves but by the convinced and enthusiastic witness of a person who loves Christ deeply, personally, who sees the world as mission field ready for harvest, whose vision of faith penetrates the seemingly worldly character of daily life and to see that there is a battle raging in the spirit between good and evil.
Third, He is a generous God. Generosity means that we rejoice in the success and good fortune of others. The purpose of this parable is to emphasize the truth that we have a God who is compassionate, merciful and generous. His actions go beyond the human understanding of fairness and justice. God gives us his blessings not because we merit them but they are absolutely his free gift to us.
And so as His children, we have to realize also that salvation comes about one by one. We must know that to be authentic apostles, even though we are not on TV or writing best-seller books, we have to go about convincing others, not only by example and persuasion, but always an invitation to experience that mysterious new relationship that has transfigured our lives.
Therefore, we should not be hurt but we should rather be grateful and rejoice that others will be called later and will receive the salvation. And so our challenge is to look at the people we meet today and see them as God does.