One of the finer distinctions one fails to make in the parable of the vineyard owner and the wage of one denarius is that the first set of workers offered their services on a fixed wage I.e on Labour contract. The second set were persons who were not HIRED, so the vineyard owner engaged their services on the basis of SERVICE. In Thamizh, that would mean OOZHIYAM! Oozhiyam is essentially rendered as service owed to a Church, Temple, deity or public work of the community. These are NOT QUANTIFIABLE in wage terms. There is a certain prestige in Service, without the assurance of a specified wage.
When the owner gave a denarius each to those contracted on Labour as well as to those who were called to render service at the vineyard, it was the owner’s will to assess the service rendered and the ex gratia to be paid for service. When the master gave a denarius each to all in both the categories, the wage contracted probably thought that they had sold themselves short! They could have bargained for more for their labour!
It is also possible that the vineyard owner had a specified sum assigned for the harvest and there was no cost overrun despite completion of the harvest, therefore he decided to be generous with those who did ‘service’ at the vineyard!
What emerges on the whole out of this parable is that, of the one who has entered into a Contract for a job, it would be none of his business to see how much his boss pays people who do lesser duration of work. If you don’t win the contract, do service, you may still get paid handsomely! Go and Work.
The skilled win labour contract but the unskilled may have to go thru anxious moments, but the vineyard owner would come even at 5 pm and engage our services and pay us equal to those who had won the contract for labour. Cheer up! There is Hope and keep it alive while still alive!
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”(Matt:20)
Does anyone sympathise with the idle anxiety of those who were not hired in the morning at six, again at 9, again at 12 noon and finally at 3 pm but were sent in to the vineyard at 5 pm but received their “service fee” of one denarius at 6 pm?
Does anyone sympathise with the 5pm service providers who had missed their breakfast, lunch and tea- break but waited with hope or merely stood there with nowhere else to go?
We don’t. We look at the salaries and perks. We seldom realise what Milton said in his epic poem : THEY ALSO SERVE WHO STAND AND WAIT!
But like Godot, one could turn up wasting one’s life – with Nothing to be done!
There is an underlying belief in Christians who are born Christians or who have declared themselves to have become Christians that those who are Christians by belief but are shy – not ashamed- of confessing, that the latter are crypto- Christians not eligible to be called as Christians!
There are verses from the Bible which are adduced by the former, such as:
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.(Mark 8:38)
Such verses are repeated to assure themselves of a certain superiority and decrying that those Christians wouldn’t inherit the kingdom of God!
Woe unto them who preach such things!
Christianity is an evolutionary process. Learning through hearing, reading or even an epiphanic event are the resources through which Christianity gradually sets into the consciousness of man.
Zacchaeus in Luke 19, did not plan to meet Jesus, but when Jesus tells him to come down from the Sycamore and stays with him, Zacchaeus repents of his rapacity and restores many times the amounts he had wrongfully collected as taxes at Jericho! He became a practising Christian much before he was baptised! To become a practising Christian nothing is a bar. If the Chief Vizier of the Ethiopian queen was convinced by Apostle Philip, that the Eunuch had to be baptised before he started practising Christianity, even that was right.
There is no single formula to Christianity. The hierarchification which goes on in Christianity neither has the sanctions of the teachings of Christ, nor are they sustainable on a sane interpretation of the Bible!
In fact when Jesus’ mother’s sister kneels before Jesus and asks Jesus to make his sons James and John sit on His right and left in His kingdom, He nails it thus:
…but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. (Matt.22:23)
This is the condition of Jesus’ apostles chosen by Him. What guarantee can a man or a church give to an individual about his place in the kingdom of heaven?
Christians should stop making such distinctions which teem with stupidity. Christianity is an evolutionary process and at what stage a person is and what opportunities he or she had, what is the weightage to his or her contribution are variables beyond the ken of human understanding and therefore, we as humans shouldn’t rush in to judge.
If anyone has any doubts if the Father in heaven (Jehovah) also thought so, please refer to the big talk of Elijah when he distinguishes himself as the only one who had not bent his knees to Baal!
14And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. 17And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (I Kings 19 chapter)
See that reply of Jehovah, a passing reference of those 7000 who had not followed Baal! God recognises and en passant counters the superiority claims of Elijah!
If that is the plight of Elijah, a man who feared no man or woman, except that he grew tired of Jezebel’s relentlessness, how much less would be the judgement of mortals who, to borrow a phrase from John the Baptist, would be unworthy to unloose the latchet of the shoes of Elijah say that Declared Christians are superior to those Christians, who confess within the confines of their homes and churches only? I am a declared and born Christian, but that in itself isn’t redeeming as the deeds and belief of man. It is time Indian Christians understood that!
A mistress stood by the sea
sighing long and anxiously.
She was so deeply stirred
By the setting sun
My Fräulein!, be gay,
This is an old play;
ahead of you it sets
And from behind it returns