Lectionary Reflection: Matthew 20: 1-16: Something to Do

I have some catching up to do.  Being out of the loop for a couple of weeks only put me behind, like the person who believes it is best not to take a week’s vacation because in the return week they have two weeks of work to do.  A job should not do that, but often it does.

In my case, this and the next couple of lectionary lessons are at least related.  They have to do with work, and more specifically with that eternal tension between works and grace.  Paul said it is not by works that we have been saved, but by grace through faith…  James sounded a counter note when he wrote, faith without works is dead…  How to reconcile?


The landowner invites everyone in the marketplace.  No one goes without an invitation.  But if we think there is something we can do (work) to gain an invitation, we are sadly mistaken.  We cannot invite ourselves.  Think about it.

But then, what are we invited for?  To work.  Think about this, too.  You might consider it this way:  God invites us to participation, not observation.

Now, the grace alone crowd is absolutely right in the sense that we cannot invite ourselves nor do anything that might earn or be worthy of an invitation.  But then some (I say some) stop there, or appear to stop there.  But being saved is not an end in itself nor the end of the story. 

And here is the truth in this story concerning God: that God is generous and will reward even those who come to him to work in the last hour.  And there will be no less reward for lateness.

And here is the truth about us:  that we are lazy, selfish, stupid losers who demand more and expect special treatment because we have worked in the heat of the day.  We are grumblers.  Don’t be a grumbler in God’s Kingdom.  Instead, be grateful and give him thanks that he called you early in life so you had all those extra years to do good for God and the Kingdom that the latecomers missed out on.   

And here is one more note:  Everyone called (invited) has work to do.  Everyone has something to do.  If you do not know what you are called to do, ask God.  Find out.  The Kingdom of God is made up of workers, not watchers.  We are called to participate, not sit back on our saved butts and watch.


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