Vineyard workers: reflection

What Can We Say. Patricia Datchuck Sánchez writes:

“Like most scriptural texts, this parable also should be evaluated and appreciated with regard for its various levels of development. At its initial or basic level, the parable defended Jesus’ missionary methodology of reaching out to extend the blessings of the kingdom to tax collectors and sinners. Whereas his contemporaries believed these to be pariah with no claim to salvation, Jesus’ words and works indicated that sinners were not only on equal footing with the righteous but were in fact the ones to whom God manifested special love and mercies.”

“At its second level of development, the parable, as remembered and preserved by the Matthean community, put forth the message that even gentiles who came “late” to the good news of salvation would enjoy the same benefits and those who were first to hear it viz., the Jews.”

“The third level of development, attributed to the evangelist, can be discerned from the context assigned to the parable by Matthew. Framed by a doublet saying of Jesus concerning the reversal of fortunes (19:30: “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first;” 20:16: “Thus the last will be first and the first will be last”), the parable offered a lesson in discipleship. Christians are not to concern themselves with recompense for their service in the cause of the kingdom; nor are believers to presume to mete out what others deserve for the services they have rendered. Human standards of fairness have no place in the reign of God. Each, and all are abundantly reward by God whose only standard is a generous, merciful, forgiving love. If God were fair, in a strictly human sense, precious few, in any, would live to enjoy the fullness of the kingdom.”

“Karl Rahner (The Great Church Year, Crossroad Publishing Co. New York: 1994) suggested that the daily wage or denarius which the owner of the vineyard gave to each hired worker is actually the gift from God of our very selves. “Our own selves, just as we are: with our life, with our temperament, with our destiny, with our surroundings, with our time, with our heredity, with our family”… These things cannot be negotiated or calculated. Whenever “we complain about others with whom God has dealt differently, we are really refusing to accept our own selves from the hands of God.” This then becomes our life’s work, to accept the denarius whom we are as God’s generous gift, mysteriously and gradually revealed. This gift is made more precious by the knowledge that when we accept it, God gives himself with his gift.”


  • K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007)
  • Eugene Boring, The Gospel of Matthew in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VIII (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1994) 377-79
  • Warren Carter, Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Book, 2000)
  • R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 2007) 746-52
  • R.T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1, ed. Leon Morris  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989) 292-94
  • Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1 of Sacra Pagina, ed. Daniel J. Harrington (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991) 282-85
  • Arland J. Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 2000) 33-43
  • Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 2009) 480-84
  • Thomas G. Long, Matthew in Westminster Bible Companion series (Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press, 1997) 223-27
  • Patricia Datchuck Sánchez, Twenty Fifth Sunday Of Ordinary TIME – Year A online at
  • Brian P.  Stoffregen, Matthew 20:1-16 on line at
  • Turner and D.L. Bock, Matthew and Mark in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, vol. 11 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005) 256-58
  • Scripture: The New American Bible available on-line at


  • David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996)
  • Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995)
  • Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990)

1 thought on “Vineyard workers: reflection

  1. As some of us may have “come late to this knowledge of God and his great mercy,” I am very grateful for this particular parable for what it reveals to us: God is loving and merciful no matter when we come to that glorious revelation. How beautiful is it to realize, no matter our age, that we are loved. We are the beloved children of God!

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