Matthew 20:1-16 – Habitat for Humanity Volunteers
Paraphrased by Rev. Allen Rutherford, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Mt. Vernon, Indiana
The kingdom of heaven is like a Habitat volunteer, who went out early in the morning to recruit laborers for the Mt. Vernon Habitat Build. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual publicity and accolades, he sent them to the build site.
When he went in to town about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, “You also go to the Habitat Build, and I will give you publicity and notoriety.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.
And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has recruited us.” He said to them, “You also go to the Habitat Build.”
When evening came, the head volunteer gathered all the workers together at the Build site and said to his P.R. person, “Call all the laborers together and let’s take a group photo of all the workers that day.”
When those recruited at about five o’clock gathered for the photo, those who were recruited first thought they should receive more notoriety and accolades for their hard work all day long; but all of the workers were put into one group photo.
Those who were first grumbled against the leader, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day; the chill of the morning and the scorching heat of the afternoon.”
But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual publicity and notoriety? You can either stand for the photo with the whole group or you can go home; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with those I recruit for the Build? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.