Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.'
He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?' Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."
It's never too late. Never too late for us to turn to redemption. Today's parable tells us so much about God’s heart. In order to fathom that, let's not only look at the complaints of the “first”, but also at the experience of the last to join the vineyard. How privileged they must have felt, how loyal they must have become to the lord.
God is generous. But not because He disregards justice. There is clearly a price to pay. If the landowner pays his workers constantly with such generosity, it will start to show in his books. That day, he chose to make that call, he chose to “invest” in these people.
Christ's generosity, the fact that it's never too late to listen to His call, has a price. And He is willing to pay it. In fact, He already has paid for it: on the cross. He pledged for our salvation, for all men's salvation. And He has paid the highest possible price, His very life.
Who are these people on the town's square? People who seem to hang completely in the air until the landowner highers them. Lazy and useless? Or rather marginalized and helpless? Be that as it may, what matters in the parable is how the lord awakes life in their grey existence.
In the same way, the human soul slouches about in the grey nooks of our fallen nature, powerless to put herself to work on her holiness. “Why do you stand here idle all day?” the Lord asks the soul. “Go into my vineyard.” This is part of each conversion; and it is a scenario which constantly repeats itself throughout the life of the Christian.
Jesus, all my efforts to become whole and holy depend on your grace. Call me to your kingdom, set me to work, empower me with your grace. No matter the hour of the day, it is never too late. You are always making your rounds calling us to conversion, calling us to accompany you, calling us to follow you.