Saint Matthew’s Gospel by the Faculty at the University of Navarre helps us to understand our Gospel reading.
“This parable is addressed to the Jewish people, whom God called at an early hour, centuries ago. Now the Gentiles are also being called—with an equal right to form part of the new people of God, the Church. In both cases it is a matter of a gratuitous, unmerited, invitation; therefore, those who were the “first” to receive the call have no grounds for complaining when God calls the “last” and gives them the same reward — membership of his people. At first sight the labourers of the first hour seem to have a genuine grievance — because they do not realize that to have a job in the Lord’s vineyard is a divine gift. Jesus leaves us in no doubt that although he calls us to follow different ways, all receive the same reward — heaven.”
The same is also true for us today. We would not expect a person who has been a vile, hateful and terrible person, who has robbed people, killed and even maimed others to get into heaven. However, if that person repents of their sins and receives forgiveness from God just before they die, they will receive the eternal reward of heaven.
A person who has served God all of their life, been active in the church and community, helped those in need and protected those in danger will receive God’s eternal reward of heaven when they die.
It doesn’t seem fair but it’s not about fairness. Fairness is a human judgement that based more on my point of view than the facts. Fortunately, it’s about God’s love and mercy which is available to everyone; the person who follows God’s calling and the worst of criminals alive. Just as God was there for the Children of Israel regardless of how many times they failed or turned away from him, he is there for us.
God calls all of us to receive him as our Lord and Savior. Some of us accept and some of us refuse. The person who receives God just before they die could very easily have died before they accepted God into their life. Then that person would never have known God’s love, never have felt God close to them and spent eternity without God.
Heaven is our reward for accepting Jesus into our hearts and lives. For those of us who accepted God’s love, mercy and forgiveness and serve God with all of our lives, we must continue to follow him so we can receive the eternal reward. For those of us who are resisting God’s love and mercy, Jesus calls each one to accept him and work to build the Kingdom of God so we can receive our reward – eternity in heaven. May each of us respond to God’s gift of love, mercy and forgiveness.