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Looking Out For Number One

So the last will be first, and the first last
Matthew 20:1-16

Sermon Topic Humility

Sermon Week Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 20:16


In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus is speaking to the disciples in parables. He tells the story of an employer who needs workers for his vineyard. He goes into the market place of the city to look for unemployed men waiting to be hired. He finds some day laborers and they agree on a price for a day's work. As the day goes on, more laborers are needed and more are hired at the same wage. When the time comes at sunset for the workers to be paid, the employer tells his foreman to pay all the workmen the same wage, beginning with those who were hired last. Each worker is to receive a full day's pay. The workers who were hired first and worked the longest begin to complain, and even challenge the employer. They try to tell him how to manage his business. "The last worked only one hour," they grumble, "and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day" (Mt. 20:12). To which the owner and master of the vineyard replies, "I am doing you no wrong ... take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you." Then, as a true capitalist of the ancient world, the master asserts his right to control and manage his affairs his way, saying, "Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?" Jesus ends the parable with his famous maxim: "So the last will be first, and the first last" (Mt. 20:12-16).

The Kingdom of God is like that, Jesus is telling us. God is in control of His vineyard. God is in charge of His universe. God does what He chooses with what belongs to Him. God gives us the gift of life and the means to bring it to fulfillment according to His plan. And isn't it the case very often that we grumble and complain, and we begrudge His generosity by trying to challenge Him and usurp His authority and [...]

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