One of my favorite ways to read the parable of Jesus is to prayerfully envision myself within the story. It always amazes me how the Holy Spirit can speak into my life through these times of sacred reading. As I approach the Gospel for this week as Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of the harvest workers in the vineyard, I am reminded of the many ways that I have seen myself in this parable.
I have seen myself as the vineyard owner and heard the Kingdom call to use my “ownership” and financial resources to provide work for others. As I live a Kingdom life and are formed in the image of Christ, is it more important to save or spend money for my own comfort or to provide employment to others?
I have seen myself often in the place of those who were hired early. I have been offended to see God’s grace poured out on those that I considered less deserving. I have even wasted considerable emotional and spiritual energy trying to convince myself and God of the undeserving nature of those hired last in a vain attempt to present myself as deserving of more. When I read and pray from this perspective with honesty and openness to the Holy Spirit, I am called to repentance, compassion, and love.
Recently, I was invited to read this passage from the perspective of the workers hired last. I was invited to stand waiting and wondering whether I would be able to return home with enough money to buy food or whether my family would go hungry again. I was invited to experience the increasing despair of the lengthening shadows with no sign of work, to experience the desperation at the end of the day with which I would accept a job with no promise of payment in the hope that I could bring home some scrap of food. I was invited to experience my own poverty of spirit, to consider the longings and desires of my heart that I stand and wait wondering if they will be met, desires for meaning, belonging, assurance, safety, love, rest, or whatever else I might long for. The things which only the shalom of God will provide.
I invite you to consider the joy and surprise of those hired last as they experience the grace of God fully meeting their need for the day. I invite you to come to His table and be filled.