Jesus’ parables often puzzle us, and they are meant to. The Lord tells these stories to challenge his disciples and to help us understand God’s ways, which are different to our own. If a parable seems strange to us, we should ask ourselves why – what is Jesus teaching us with this story?
This Sunday’s parable seems particularly puzzling. Why should the workers who have done only one hour’s labour receive the same wage as those who have been working all day in the hot sun? The answer is that we don’t earn our place in the kingdom of heaven – it’s always God’s gift. The Lord calls us all to work in his vineyard, but each person has their own unique call. Each of us is asked to contribute what we can, using our own gifts and talents. Each of us can hope for the greatest reward of all – eternal life with God.
In the kingdoms of this world, the wealthy and the powerful come first, but in God’s kingdom, the first will be last and the last will be first. This parable shows us that God doesn’t give us what we deserve, but instead pours out his gifts on us freely.