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Laborers in the vineyard.


(The laborers who received equal pay)

In the work of a man's salvation so little is fulfilled by the man himself that it is not even worthwhile to talk about the reward for one’s works. For an example, the Lord told about the laborers who received pay above their work.

"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth hour and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when the even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen" (Mt. 20:1-16).

For the Jews, the first hour was equal to 6 a.m. today, and the eleventh hour to 5 p.m. When the lord of the vineyard paid the laborers, he did not give more to those who worked from daybreak but paid the same amount to everyone. Those who had come earlier received their pay as they had agreed, and the latecomers received the same amount out of the lord's kindness. In this parable the Lord teaches us that the grace of God and that eternal life are given to people not on the basis of a mathematical calculation of their works or the time that they have belonged to the Church, but out of God's grace. The Jews thought that they had been the first members of the kingdom of the Messiah and deserved a greater reward than the Christians who joined this kingdom later. But God's measure of righteousness is totally different. On His scales, sincerity, assiduity, genuine love, humbleness are more precious than the external and formal side of human activity. The penitent thief who, in the last hours of his life, so fully and sincerely repented on the cross and so wholeheartedly believed in the outcast and suffering Savior, received the Kingdom of Heaven alongside the righteous who had served God since early childhood. God gives mercy to all for the sake of His Only-Begotten Son, not for the sake of their merits. Here lies the hope for the sinners who can attract God's mercy and eternal salvation with one repentant sigh coming out of the depths of a torn soul. The good works of a man and his Christian way of life are the witness of his sincere religious persuasions; they strengthen the gracious gifts received within him, but they do not constitute a service to God in the legal meaning of this word.

The need that a man has in God's grace is revealed by the Lord in the parable about <see next chapter>

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