But I Was Here First

But I Was Here First

Matthew’s parable of the Vineyard Workers (20:1-15) is hard to hear and even harder to preach about. It’s about the guy who hires workers at progressively later times, but everybody winds up getting the same pay. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I flew home from Dallas early last Sunday morning because I knew the lines would be short. When I was directed to the right-hand line for final check-in and scanning, somebody from the left line was with the agent, and when he finished, the couple in front of me in the right lane walked up to the podium.

I was the only one there, but just before it was my turn, somebody else showed up in the left lane. When the couple from my lane finished, I shot up to the podium.

“You aren’t next,” I was told. “We go right to left, not right, right and left.” “But I was here before the other guy even showed up,” I shot back. “Doesn’t matter,” she said, “we always go right to left, and then left to right.”

I think I said “whatever” a couple of times, all the while insisting that the process wasn’t fair. That was right before I stormed off.

That’s when I heard the workers from Matthew’s story telling the owner, “But I was here before anybody else,” or, “This just isn’t fair.”

It certainly isn’t, is it? As it turns out, we know dangerously little about the ways of God.


Image: Shutterstock/spotmatik


About the Author

Joe McHugh is a spiritual director, retreat leader, teacher, and writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the National Catholic Reporter. His book, "Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places" is available at catalog.franciscanmedia.org. He can be contacted at jjmch1300@gmail.com.
  • Angie

    This is a great reminder.

  • Jennifer Trently

    So very true, I often myself going to God saying it’s not fair and then having to come again to the realization that therein lies the mystery because God is God and it’s none of my business really.