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PARABLES




THE LABORERS WHO CAME TO WORK AT DIFFERENT TIMES

 

Christ told this parable: There was an owner of an estate who went to hire workmen for his vineyard. He hired some early in the morning, others at mid-morning, then again at noon, mid-afternoon and finally in later afternoon. He hired those who were idle. At the end of the day he gave each one his due, a denarius. 

 

The vineyard of the Lord is a way of life wherewith one works out his salvation by acquiring a perfect knowledge of the commands of Christ and obeying those commands. If one's knowledge is imperfect, one's obedience would be imperfect too. St. Peter states that perfect obedience to one command is obedience to all the commands. "Bear one another's burden and in this way you will obey the law of Christ." So merely bearing patiently all the defects of those around us is considered obedience to all the commands of Christ...that is, if we do it perfectly. St. Peter adds however that disobedience to one is disobedience to all. 

 

Though the invitations at different times refer to the different times God called peoples or the Israelites to obey His commands, it also refers to present day Christians who are personally invited to work in the vineyard at an early age, some at middle age and others during their old age. Proof of this is the different ages of the saints in the Catholic Church. 

 

In Scriptures, we are aware of two different calls made by God. One may be described as a general call made to all, like the call Christ made to the multitude; and there is the more personal or individual call which Christ made to His disciples. The parable above refers more to the personal call to follow Christ seriously and is usually made to those who have already answered the general invitation. 

 

Those who worked in the early morning and those who worked late in the afternoon received the same wage...symbolized by the denarii. This is eternal happiness in heaven that is equally given to all. But each will shine in different ways in heaven depending on the degree of holiness. 

 

The complaining workers are out of place in the parable because true disciples working in the vineyard of the Lord never complain nor are they envious of others. Their work presumes they are charitable. "The first shall be last and the last shall be first," is also out of place because the first, in the parable, did not become last nor the last become first. They were all equal. Christ often adds these thoughts to remind us how hard it is to enter the kingdom of heaven and therefore, we should take our salvation seriously. 

 

Blessed Theoplylact:  On Matthew

 

 

 

 

(updated 02-09-02)

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