September 24, 2023

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Exodus 16:2-15
    • Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Jonah 3:10-4:11
    • Psalm 145:1-8
  • Second reading
    • Philippians 1:21-30
  • Gospel
    • Matthew 20:1-16

The gospel from Matthew:
Jesus said “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
1752 Dietrich, Christian Wilhelm Ernst:
Palace on the Isle
Warsaw, Poland

When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.

Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Pastor Stevenson often ponders over a unified theme for the three readings each week. Today there is no question as to a unified theme. In the gospel from Matthew the workers grumbled against the landowner. Yes, people grumbIe. In the first reading Jonah grumbled. The Syrians however were awful. For example, they would tie prisoners to a chariot by a ring through the nose. But Jonah has understanding. The parable in Matthew is accurate, as it was customary for slaves to be paid the same. We have all been in the workplace and seen freeloaders get full pay. In our gospel reading the vineyard represents Israel and the owner God. It is about God’s goodness. Why are people envious of God being generous? The translation of the text in Greek was “why look at me with evil eye because I was good?” The translation to English, “are you envious because I am generous?,” is correct. It cuts to the heart of the matter. Jesus is challenging his listeners to a mission. Pastor continues in speaking on this
mission. ………….

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