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The Workers’ Paradise

In this weekend’s First Reading, God tells us in no uncertain terms: “My ways are not your ways.” In the Gospel, the parable of the workers in the vineyard gives us a concrete example of this principle.

To most of us it probably seems manifestly unfair that the workers who only enter the vineyard at the eleventh hour get the same payment as those who have been working from the start of the day. But if we actually try to apply this parable to the afterlife (as we’re almost certainly meant to) we might start to see how God’s perspective makes sense. Jesus is telling us that there’s no such thing as a second-class or a third-class Heaven. God only has one reward to give us, and that’s perfect love for all eternity. None of us really deserve it, because none of us have loved God nearly as perfectly as he loves us. But, because he’s so generous, he’s going to give it to us anyway. And perfection is an absolute: there’s no such thing as ‘more’ or ‘less’ perfect. That’s actually good news too. Do we really want Heaven to simply recreate the inequalities and class struggles that create so much resentment and suffering in this world? However, we shouldn’t conclude from all of this that it’s better for us to wait and enter the vineyard only at the eleventh hour. There’s a real advantage to going in as early as possible. Heaven is really about sharing God’s life and entering into his work. This is the real purpose of our existence and, the moment we embrace it, we start to experience the joy, fulfilment and peace we’ve always wanted. The work of Heaven is its own reward. And we don’t have to wait. We can start to have it right now.

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