Gospel of 20th September 2020 – Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’
Reflection on the Roman Coin
Whilst many different coins were issued in Judea during Jesus’ life, the standard Roman currency was the denarius. A denarius, as we can read in today’s Gospel reading, was the equivalent of a day’s wages for a labourer. During Jesus’ lifetime, coins in the Roman Empire bore the likeness of the Emperor, as on the example illustrated here, who was Augustus (also known as Tiberius) for most of Jesus’ life. Coins of the Roman Empire generally show the head of the Emperor on one side and a deity on the the reverse (the Pax-Livia figure on our coin). Coins were thus a way for new emperors to cement their power and spread their fame and reputation throughout the empire.
Jesus used today’s parable to show how generous God is. God gives all His love to everyone, without exception. It is for people to accept this gift or not… and this gift, whether accepted early in life or at the end of life, is still the same gift: a love that cannot be earned… a love that can only be accepted. The fact that some people might come to accepting this gift later in life doesn’t make the gift any less important, nor their acceptance of it any less meaningful.
Today’s story – https://christian.art/en/daily-gospel-reading/550
Christian Art – www.christian.art
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