The following is a reflection written by Sister Janet M. Peterworth for the Gospel of Matthew: 20:1-16A on Sunday, September 21, 2020, the Parable of the Vineyard.


The “Kindom” of God is like a landowner who had a vineyard in central California. She needed workers for her vineyard because the fires (caused by climate change) were getting closer to her property. So, she went out at 6:00 a.m. and found a few workers who had gotten up that early waiting to be hired.

So she said, “Come to my vineyard and I will give you a day’s wage for your work, and I will also bring other workers in as the day goes on so you can take breaks and rest. I know what a back-breaking job it is to pick grapes all day.”

So, as she said, she went out again at 9:00 AM and then at noon and got more workers. She promised to do right by them if they picked fast. The wind had shifted and now everyone was racing against the fire (caused by climate change.) The grapes in her vineyard were expensive because they were the grapes that were made into champagne.

Now the wind had shifted, and the fires (caused by climate change) were getting closer. The landowner decided that she needed more workers, but it was 3:00 pm and she was not sure there would be anyone waiting to be hired. As luck would have it however, there were still some folks who needed jobs and she said, “I need help getting my grapes in. If you want to work, jump in my truck and I will pay you what is right.” So, these workers came in and got to work. In the meantime, those who had been hired at 6:00 a.m. were really tired and she told them to rest for the rest of the day, but to hang around.

By now it was 5:00 p.m. and if the vineyard was to be saved at all, more people were needed. So once again, the landowner jumped in her truck and went into town. And sure enough, there were folks there who wanted to work. The landowner was curious, so she asked them, “Why have you been here all day? Why hasn’t anyone hired you?” One worker said in Spanish, “I don’t have a green card and business owners were afraid to hire me.” Another said, “I just got out of prison and served time for a felony, so no one trusted me.” One more spoke up, “I am a single mom and seems like every time an employer came here today, I was home with my sick baby. My neighbor is helping now, so that I can work the rest of the day.” So, the landowner said, “Hey, you are the kind of people I need. I bet I could train you to be really good workers. Jump in.” And off they went racing to the vineyard. The landowner was so happy now because it looked like her workers were going to get the grapes in before the fire (caused by climate change) got to the vineyard.

Finally, at the end of the day and they could not pick any longer because of the smoke and danger of the fire (caused by climate change), the owner called it quits. It was time to settle with the workers. She called them all into her winery and after consulting with her foreman, the landowner said, “You have all worked so hard and helped so much I am going to give every one of you the same pay for your work. Working together as a team, you have saved my vineyard, and you shall be paid as a team. The whole thing will probably go up in this fire (caused by climate change) later tonight, but we got this last crop in, and I will just have to plant more next season. Maybe I can hire you to help with the replanting. You are a good group of workers.”

One of the workers who was hired at 6:00 a.m. spoke up and said, “I am glad you brought in other workers to help. They really saved the day because we could not have gotten the grapes in without them. And I just want to say, it is generous of you to pay all of us the same. Really, if the grapes had gone up in flames, none of us might have been paid. I’m just grateful we all got something.” And the single mom who had been hired at 5:00 p.m. said through tears,” I never expected to even get hired, but this has been wonderful. I did work hard, and I am so glad I could help as much as I did. This pay is going to let me get the medicine I need for my sick baby.”

The landowner said, “I think this calls for a celebration! Foreman, please get some bottles of champagne off the shelf so we can offer a toast to one another for our hard work in saving the vineyard and a toast to God for sending such good workers into the vineyard.”

And so it is in the Kindom of God.


Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“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,
the landowner 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,
the landowner 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.”

MT 20:1-16A