Matthew Chapter 20
The workers in the vineyard

1 This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.

2 He agreed to pay the workers a salary of a silver coin for the day, and sent them to his vineyard.

3 He went out again at about nine in the morning, and seeing others idle in the square,

4 he said to them: ¡®You, too, go to my vineyard and I will pay you what is just.¡¯ So they went.
The owner went out at midday and again at three in the afternoon,

5 and he did the same.

6 Finally he went out at the last working hour ¨C it was the eleventh ¨C and he saw others standing there. So he said to them: ¡®Why do you stay idle the whole day?¡¯

7 They answered: ¡®Because no one has hired us.¡¯ The master said: ¡®Go and work in my vine yard.¡¯

8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager: ¡®Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.¡¯

9 Those who had come to work at the eleventh hour turned up and were given a denarius each (a silver coin).

10 When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more.

11 But they, too, received a denarius each. So, on receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.

12 They said: ¡®These last hardly worked an hour, yet you have treated them the same as us who have endured the day¡¯s burden and heat.¡¯

13 The owner said to one of them: ¡®Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on a denarius a day?

14 So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you.

15 Don¡¯t I have the right to do as I please with my money? Why are you envious when I am kind?¡¯

16 So will it be: the last will be first, the first will be last.¡±

Third prophecy of the passion

17 When Jesus was going to Jeru salem, he took the Twelve aside and said to them on the way,

18 ¡°See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be given over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law who will condemn him to death.

19 They will hand him over to the foreigners who will mock him, scourge him and crucify him. But he will be raised to life on the third day.¡±

The mother of James and John asks for the first seats

20 Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down to ask a favor.

21 Jesus said to her, ¡°What do you want?¡± And she answered, ¡°Here you have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at your right and one at your left, when you are in your kingdom.¡±

22 Jesus said to the brothers, ¡°You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?¡± They answered, ¡°We can.¡±

23 Jesus replied, ¡°You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right or at my left is not for me to grant. That will be for those for whom the Father has prepared it.¡±

24 The other ten heard all this and were angry with the two brothers.

25 Then Jesus called them to him and said, ¡°You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants, and the powerful oppress them.

26 It shall not be so among you; whoever wants to be more important in your group shall make himself your servant.

27 And if you want to be first, make yourself the servant of all.

28 Be like the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many.¡±

29 As they left Jericho, a great crowd followed them on the way.

30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they be gan to call out, ¡°Son of David, have mercy on us!¡±

31 The people told them to keep quiet. But they shouted even louder, ¡°Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!¡±

32 Jesus stopped, called out to them and asked, ¡°What do you want me to do for you?¡±

33 They said, ¡°Lord, open our eyes.¡±

34 Jesus was moved with compassion and touched their eyes. Imme diately they recovered their sight and they began to follow Jesus.


Comments Mathew, Chapter 20


Many are surprised at this parable. They find it un fair to give the same reward to everyone, without taking into account the labor and sacrifices of everyone.

Without doubt Jesus wanted to shock us and shatter the idea we obstinately cling to: that we have merits that God must recognize. How ever we should pay closer attention to the story: Jesus makes a comparison, not of several laborers, but of several groups of laborers. Each group represents a nation or a social class, and while some of them have long ago received the word of God, others have just become believers.

All throughout history, God has been calling different people to work in his vineyard. He called Abra ham first and placed his descendants in charge of his work in the world. Later on, during the time of Mo ses many others joined his group in order to leave Egypt and that has continued throughout history. The elders never cease to claim their right to receive better treatment than the others. Actually the vineyard has not been confided to them exclusively.

Then, with the coming of Christ, the Gospel was brought to other nations that were until then pagan. They came into the Church and shaped Christianity. They also claimed to be owners of the kingdom of God and the Church.

To this day, there are also social groups that are amazed when the Church criticizes their demand for privileges and does not assign them the first benches in the temple for they had always believed that the Church was theirs.

In this parable, all are treated on equal terms and receive one silver coin each. Let them be happy for having been invited to work, as they were unemployed.

• 20. See commentary on Mark 10:35. Compare Matthew 20:23 and Mark 10:46.