The Third Sunday Before Lent
13 Feb 2022
The Gospel. St. Matthew xx. 1.
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 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 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.
Septuagesima (70 Days) Sunday begins the period of pre-Lent. During Epiphanytide we focused on Jesus’ revelation to the Gentiles starting with the Magi, His tremendous Baptism, and the Marriage Feast of Cana. Now, we begin to consider what our Lord completed in His Incarnation. Our goal through these Sundays is to reach the Cross and the Resurrection with Him. What can we bring of our souls and bodies to this time?
Bishop Ed Tompkins
In this twenty-first century, we may wonder why all who labor in the vineyard are given equal pay with very different levels of effort. The husbandman is clearly God Himself, and we are among the workers. When those who worked long hours question the payscale, the husbandman said “Didn’t we have a deal? I met my commitment to you. Don’t I have a right to be generous to those to whom I wish to be generous?” “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) We lose track of this in the rush of today’s world. It is as though God has a different measuring stick than we have. We are being warned not to be looking for man’s sense of justice in God’s actions in this world. He spreads His blessings as He sees fit. If we approach what the Lord is providing to us and others with humility, we shall see His true justice.
Of course, we also need to realize that our good deeds and extra effort have not earned us any privileges in God’s eyes. It is only through His mercy that we are healed of our sins and transgressions, our pride and our jealousies. We are also expected not to see the pecking order in this world as what will come of us all in the next. “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” Pride is very dangerous especially for those in positions of leadership. The remaining advice is very important: “for many be called, but few chosen.” The work in the vineyard requires many hands. Some come to the work with eagerness; some are latecomers but still help make progress. The Anglican Church Worldwide (ACW) still needs many hands to continue the work that Archbishop Hartley and other dedicated ACW members have begun. Alas, some have turned aside being distracted by other goals, but the work of the ACW continues and with prayer and devotion, the dream of Archbishop Hartley and the great Patriarchs of our Church will be realized.
God’s gifts to us are free, but we need to reflect our gratitude in every aspect of our life. Let us daily ask for the Lord’s forgiveness when we miss the mark. Let us daily thank the Lord for His many blessings—especially the grace He bestows so that we can face another day working in the vineyard. Finally, let us daily pray that the Lord will “comfort and succour all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.” Ask for his help for the ACW, for your neighbors, friends, enemies, and all mankind. Work in the vineyard with joy!
Source: The Sunday called Septuagesima
by W.J. Hankey