Jesus gives us the parable of the landowner who hires workers at various times of the day to work in his vineyard. This generous landowner decides to be overly generous to those who had been hired at later times, giving them the same day’s pay as those hired early in the morning. This generous move causes some to be upset, thinking they were worth more because they had worked the whole day through.
While this may seem unfair in some ways, we need to look at this parable in a different way. I like to think of this landowner as God, who invites the workers into His vineyard. The vineyard could be likened to eternal life. Some people choose to answer God’s call early in life, perhaps because they have received a solid upbringing in the faith from their parents. Others don’t accept God’s call until later in life for various reasons; they failed to see the importance of a relationship with God, or they were influenced by others who led them away from a faith life. Whatever the reason, they eventually accept God’s call and join with Him in His work of bringing the Good News to others. In the same way that we heard some groused about the workers hired later in the day receiving the same wage in the parable, there are some people who complain that those who accept God’s call later in life are getting a sweeter deal.
But that’s not the way to look at this situation. Rather, we should be overjoyed that they have accepted the gift of faith, even if it be at the last moments of their lives. We should be filled with joy because that is what we should want for everyone; to be with God for eternity! Perhaps we may have played a role in these latecomers accepting the faith by the way we lived, by our prayers for them, by showing them the importance faith plays in our lives.
We can be the workers in the vineyard. That is what we are called to by our baptism. We can do this only when we accept the grace God gives to us, and then lovingly pass on the gift.