Tag Archives: Matthew 20:1-16

The Workers in the Vineyard

“The Workers in the Vineyard”
Matthew 20:1-16 “in a snailshell” 
Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“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.”

Matthew 20:1-16

Language and Religion

20th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday (Year II)

“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16).

What is the foundation of the concepts “first” and “last”?

“First” is derived from one. One is derived from two. Unity and multiplicity give rise to each other as relative concepts. Both arise from the perception of parts outside of parts. The origin of numbers and sequence in human thought began with countable objects, including humans themselves.

Numbers are neither primordial nor eternal, as the simple Trinity is indivisible and has no parts. Concepts of One and Three in discussing the Trinity belong to religion—the sphere of humankind’s return to unity. Indeed, the word “religion” comes from the Latin re + ligare (to bind back), an etymology discovered by early Roman grammarians and St. Augustine. 

Consciousness of separation (among objects, humans, and between humans and God) generated the need to “bind back” what was divided. 

“First” can ultimately be traced back to the primeval wound and separation of Adam from the Trinity. The one-pointed, “single eye” of original consciousness was simple and undifferentiated. As in the Trinity, the first human person had awareness of a unique “I” in communion with three unique “I’s,” but without consciousness of boundaries. Persons in communion (perichoresis) interpenetrate or dwell within one another in a manner beyond the dichotomy of spirit and matter. The process of return to the Trinity requires the transformation of fragmented consciousness (viewing the “I” as separated from all others) to a unified consciousness (realizing the “I” as inseparable from all others).

In the untransfigured realm, persons experience one another as individuals. The “I” of each person appears circumscribed by shape and form; existence extends only as far as the epidermal limit. Consciousness conditioned by spacetime projects its categories onto the divine, which is evidenced in language and grammatical structures. For example, the concept of “equality” is derived from spacetime: What is Equality? (Part 2)

The resurrection of Christ reveals the embryonic potential of matter for deification and transfiguration to an all-encompassing, undifferentiated state. When indivisible union and communion are brought to fruition in the Trinity, there will be no foundation (fissure) for “first” and “last.” 

Concepts, words, language and thought are all temporary vehicles for our journey back to unity in the Trinity.


Click here for another reflection on the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard: Indivisible Glory