Mothers’ Union Devotion Wednesday 19th August 2020
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?” Matthew 20. 11-15
I love the film Labyrinth which is a Jim Henson muppet style film starring David Bowie as the Goblin King. The main character Sarah travels through the labyrinth in order to rescue her baby brother. The path is not easy as the labyrinth keeps changing and throughout the film Sarah frequently grumbles, whining, “It’s not fair!” Eventually David Bowie’s character retorts, “You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is.”
The workers in today’s parable feel they have a very sound basis for comparison when they complain that it is not fair. They have worked for more hours than others, but they have all received the same wages. The workers would be quite right to complain if this parable were being presented as an exemplar of Jesus’ economic policy. I am sure this passage has been used in the past by unscrupulous employers to refute the claims of their God-fearing workers for fairer wages.
Jesus, instead, is using this parable to highlight the very nature of generosity. If Jesus wishes to be generous then who are we to question that generosity. Indeed, rather than question such generosity perhaps we can learn from it. I am sure we all have a tendency to weigh up who or what cause seems most deserving of our gifts. Whether these are purely financial, or more physical with the giving of our time, we cannot help every cause, so we must make decisions. Jesus is encouraging us to make those decisions based on needs rather than a sense of worthiness. Avoiding the danger of judging people for their past behaviour by refusing to help certain causes.
Jesus’ generosity teaches us that our basis for comparison should not be – it is not fair that people who do not work as hard or behave as well as us get the same as us. Rather – it is not fair that some people are left without the basic necessities of life, food, shelter, security, love, and friendship. Jesus calls us to use our personal resources to be people of generosity who help others to receive such daily essentials. We may not all have a financial surplus, but we can all be abundantly generous with our love and friendship.
All my love and prayers