Mid-week Reflection (Matthew 20:1-16) [19th August 2020]
If you’re used to keeping a diary, I’m sure you’ve written many times that it’s time to do something to change something in your life and pay more attention to the really important things. But if you don’t have a diary, it doesn’t mean you don’t remember how many times you set out to change something for the better. It is part of human nature to want to be better and it is not just about the material part of life, but also the spiritual part. To the extent that we realize that it is time for a change, we also understand that this depends largely on us. It is true that there are many circumstances that influence us, but it depends on us if we sit and wait for something to happen or we decide to act. This is not about being successful, but about wanting to change something, to do something.
We often hear the expression that it is never too late to try or start a change. The expression is valid when it comes to starting to change something, to make a decision, to start the process of change, but it is not the same if we talk about the success we could have in what we set out to do. In order to be successful, in order to reach our goal, the time in which we decide to start is important, the time in which we start working. Otherwise the expression that it is never too late can be a trap.
In the text proposed as the basis for this week’s reflection (Matthew 20:1-16), Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven with a vineyard owner who calls workers into his vineyard. Many times, this text is used to illustrate our call to work to spread the good news, to transform the world around us so that people feel the presence and work of God’s love. It’s a good illustration.
I propose to you to consider that the Kingdom of God is what we want to be from now on, what we set out to become, how to live, the good we hope for and want, the person we want to be in the future. Likewise, I propose to consider the vineyard as being in everything we have to do to achieve our goal, our expectations. Following the same logic, let’s consider the different hours when the workers are called to work in the vineyard as the different moments in which each of us accepts that we have to do something for the better and we start working, we start to change our life. Each of us realizes that it is time for a change in different moments of his/her life. In this situation, it is never too late. As long as we realize that something has to be different, it means that it is the time to act. But sometimes, (and not infrequently), if we do not respond in time, then it may be too late for that change or for a particular fact.
With a little sincerity, we can remember how many times we said to ourselves: if I had acted then … It is true that we are given chances, but not always for the same things, goals, expectations. Losing some chances can be a lesson in using others, but the purpose and consequences are rarely the same. In this lies our regret, the suffering due to the losses due to negligence or postponement.
In the text from the Gospel of Matthew, all workers, regardless of the time they are called to work, receive the same rebate. Let’s consider that the reward given to the workers is the joy of achieving the goal, of the desired change, of the expected good. Each of us can find in his life deeds, personal experiences, dreams for himself that he considers as a reward for work.
But one thing is clear in the Gospel’s text: when they were called, the workers set to work. It doesn’t matter when they were called, it’s just that they answered and started working. And the lord of the vineyard rewarded them all equally: they obtained the reward.
Once again: it doesn’t matter when we realized it, because that means that then we understood the state we are in. It only matters that we start doing something right then. If we procrastinate, sometimes it may be too late. Even when it comes to receiving God into our lives.
(Revd. Bernard Noghiu, Southend on Sea – 18th August 2020)