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“Sour Grapes”

Pentecost 17A, September 25, 2023

New Covenant, Matthew 20:1-16

“Sour Grapes”

Jesus says, “This is what the kingdom of heaven is like. God’s kingdom
is like a landowner that pays all the workers a living wage regardless of how
many hours they worked in the vineyard.”

The landowner asks, “Are you resentful because I am generous?” Duh! Yeah!
Where’s the fairness and justice? It’s not fair that the one’s that worked all
day get the same wage as those that only worked an hour.

Jesus tells us, in this parable that God’s kingdom doesn’t operate on
the traditional principles of capitalism on the quality of work or length of
service. Rather God’s kingdom operates on God’s incredible generosity. No one
is more or less worthy or valuable than someone else. The workers complaint is,
“You’ve made them equal to us!” That’s the rub. That’s the tension. The
landowner doesn’t distinguish between the workers. The landowner makes them all
equal. The focus is not on who is more deserving, but rather on the need of
each worker. In God’s kingdom, justice is based on equality rather than
fairness. God is generous in ways that may make us feel uncomfortable and may
not make sense or seem fair to us.

The landowner isn’t concerned with how many hours the workers worked. The
landowner is concerned with the worker’s needs. At the end of the day, the
landowner isn’t concerned with who deserves what but rather, cares that
everyone gets what they need. This generates two responses. The one hour worker
is grateful. The 12 hour worker is resentful. Question, what is our response to
God’s generosity? Gratitude or resentment? Fortunately, it doesn’t matter, because
God is generous. God gives generously to both, those who are grateful and those
who are resentful. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like this.” God is
exceedingly generous. God’s gifts are not earned. There are no bonuses for
arriving early and no penalties for being late. God’s gifts are equally
distributed to the grateful and the resentful. In the kingdom of heaven,
justice is based on equality rather than fairness. All the workers are treated
the same.

The landowner asks the workers in the parable “Are you resentful because
I am generous?” God asks us that same question today. Are we grateful or
resentful that God gives us what we need, rather than what we probably deserve?
And if we are grateful for God generously giving us what we need, rather than
what we deserve, shouldn’t we be just as generous with the gifts we distribute
to one another?

May Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.