The Parable of the Vineyard: the Updated Version

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Last week, Slappy wrote an article about the Sunday readings of September 14th. He did a great job of showing how the messages in the readings apply to what we’re trying to do on this blog.

But many times the readings aren’t straight forward—and that’s not surprising, the Bible contains books that are literally thousands of years old. People and times were different then and interpretation is often important. The Gospel from this past Sunday, the Parable of the Vineyard, requires interpretation and dare I say an update.

As such, I will rewrite this Gospel reading so that people today can understand it.

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 bused people in from all over the surrounding area and picketed the landowner, shouting, “Equal pay for equal work! Equal pay for equal work! Equal pay for equal work!”

He said to them in reply, “My friends, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go.”

They shouted only the louder, “Equal pay for equal work! Equal pay for equal work!”

To this, the landowner responded, “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?”

One of them stood up from the drum circle and yelled, “No, you’re not! We have laws that prevent people like you from cheating workers like us! We’re not jealous, we have the right to a livable wage!”

“Your money?! You wouldn’t have any of that money if it weren’t for workers like us slaving in your fields all day!” screamed an ambiguously gendered dreadlocked person.

Eventually all of the commotion made the Roman soldiers show up. They came with swords and spears and demanded that they enter the vineyard to look through his financial documents (and look for drugs and guns but were unable to find any, so they killed his dog out of spite).

Some time passed and one morning the workers saw the landowner coming into the marketplace again. They sneered at him, talking among themselves but loud enough so that he could hear them, “Oh, look who’s coming back to hire more wage slaves so he can get rich.”

But he sat down next to them and said, “Nah, the Department of Labor shut my vineyard down and seized all of my property. I need a job too.”

Thus, those who try to create wealth will be demonized and have it stolen by popular demand.