Aloha Friday Message – September 18, 2020 – Truly Right and Just

2038AFC091820 – Truly Right and Just

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    Matthew 20:4 and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right*.’ So they went.

Matthew 20:13 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong*; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? (a denarius)

* δίκαιον (dikaion) {dik’-ah-yon} dikaion Whatsoever is right; just and fair; correct, righteous, by implication innocent especially, just in the eyes of God; upright, virtuous, honest, especially, just in the eyes of God. This word in Scripture describes what is in conformity to God’s own being.

1 Denarius ↓ showing the image of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor in Jesus’ day. The coin was silver, originally the payment for 10 donkeys – decem (10) → deni (10s) → denarius nummus (ten donkeys) → Denarius. It was the common wage for a day’s work by a soldier or itinerant laborer. It was considered “the usual payment” sufficient for subsistence. Something like “an honest dollar for an honest day’s work.” This is the wage the first workers expected when they started working for the land owner in The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16. This could also be called The Parable of the Compassionate Employer. In many translations, there is an additional statement at the end of the parable that says, “For many are called, but few chosen.” (See Matthew 20:16 and search for “chosen.”)

If you remember this parable, you will recall the owner of a vineyard went outside his gate early in the morning to find laborers to work. He hired several who were nearby and told them he would pay them “what is right.” A little later he looked for more workers – around 9:00, and several more started working being assured they would be paid “whatever is right.” Then he made two more trips – one around noon and one at 3:00 – and sent others to help those already in the vineyard. As evening drew nigh, the owner called his foreman and told him to assemble the workers to pay them and to start with the last ones hired. To the great surprise of those workers, they received a full day’s pay for their work. They were likely expecting to be paid less on a prorated basis, but instead they got one denarius, the fair and usual pay for a full day of work. Next came the group hired at noon, then the ones hired at 9:00, and lastly the ones who started early in the morning. All of them received a full denarius. It was unheard of to pay people “more than they were worth.”

One of the laborers stepped up and told the boss he thought that it was unfair that he should get “only” 1 denarius when he had worked the full day while the guys who had worked the least – only an hour or so also got a full-day’s wages. The owner told him, “You agreed to work for a fair wage and I have treated you fairly. You got exactly what we agreed to. I told these others I would ‘pay them whatever is right,’ and I have done that. Are you angry with me because I choose to be generous? It’s my money, isn’t it? Shouldn’t I be able to use it as I see fit?” Jesus’ concluding statement is perhaps a bit cryptic: 1So the last will be first, and the first will be last. There was no prorated reimbursement for work done in that vineyard on that day. That’s also the way it works with God. He always rewards us with what is right and just; we never get too much or too little, but always what God’s generosity provides. And who can fault God’s generosity? The sun shines and the rain falls on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45) because God is generous. But he is also fair. The righteous receive the reward of life with God. The unrighteous do not. Our Responsorial Psalm for Sunday comes from Psalm 145. There we find Psalm 145:17-20 17 The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

In some of my research for these topics, I’ve read how certain scholars have figured out that those who live the most righteous life receive the highest rewards in Heaven. Maybe instead of a room they get upgraded to a suite, or instead of a suite they get a condo, or beyond that a real castle or palace. Whoever is most unrighteous receives emptiness – the Second Death. God knows what we do, what we say, what we think even before we do, and there is no one who can be more familiar with us than God is. We also know God is present in every aspect of life. Now, these laborers most likely knew the fellow who owned the vineyard. He must have been pretty flush with money because he had a BIG vineyard and hired “plenty people” to work in it. They knew who he was and what he could afford, and they trusted him when he said, “I’ll pay you what is fair if you come to work for me.” They knew he was good for the money because he had a good reputation in the community. These days, I think that is less true for God’s reputation! Too many people these days think like this: “God HAD BETTER give me what I want, or I’m going to destroy everything he’s done!” These are the folks who “conveniently overlook” that part which says “but all the wicked he will destroy.

Belovéd, I confess I watch daily for that destruction to be carried out. Most of the people I love also love God enough to be obedient to his Word. Those who do not love God in that way are remembered in my daily list of prayers as I pray for “their deep and lasting conversion.” If you read these messages, you, too, have a thirst for souls, and you also know that the towering tsunami of evil washing over us now is a prelude to the massive suffering, pain, distress, fear, hardship, and misery that seems to be just days away. We believe God will protect us. We believe God will save us and destroy the evil. We trust that God’s mercy will shield us from his wrath. We place our hope in our God who always is and always does everything that is “truly right and just.” But, we need to be cautious about our certainty.

You may remember Mark 1:16-20 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Hm. “For many are called, but few chosen.” Now, think about the guys loitering in the town square outside the vineyard. The owner came out several times to hire workers. He called for them. Several answered. Not ALL of them answered, and only those who did answer got paid. The reward came only to those who answered the call. Doesn’t that remind us of John 6:44? 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. What will Jesus say to those of us, to our loved ones, to the rioters in the street, to the haters and child abusers, to the murderers and rebels against Good if they will not turn to him and give their lives to God? You can get a pretty clear understanding of that if you will carefully read John 5:30-47. (Please DO follow that link!)

We who love the Lord should be able to see easily that God is always truly right and just. Honestly, I believe the people who do not know and love him also expect him to be right and just; however, they believe that “right outcomes” and “just reward” always mean “pleasant compensation” – trophies, sprinkles, free stuff, and no job requirements. Jesus has certainly made it clear that it will not always work out that way. Even if we respond late, it is always necessary to respond and accept the Gift so as to honor the Giver. We refuse God’s gifts of Grace, Salvation, and Eternal Joy at the peril of living eternity without any of those things.

Belovéd, if we are going to expect to receive from God what is truly right and just, it is only right and just that we give him all that is truly right and just from our own lives – a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.” (See Romans 12:1-3).

In this time of great stress, confusion, and turmoil, we find ourselves longing for security, peace, and comfort. How shall we find them and to whom shall we turn? Belovéd, you already know the answer! You might have even memorized it already in Matthew 6:33 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, for “Whosoever Will May Come.” (↔ Music Link) See John 6:37 and Revelation 22:17. (Seriously. Go read those so you’ll know how easy it is to hear the call.)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —
at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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