We’ve all been there: we place the finishing touches on a project only to have someone else, who has only put in a few minutes’ time, also take credit. Right? It’s the worst.

It doesn’t take much to imagine the indignation of the laborers in today’s parable. Perhaps you’re right there with them, lamenting that a full day’s work shouldn’t earn the same wage as an hour’s work. Clearly, this landowner doesn’t seem to understand how things are supposed to work!

But is that so? Or might it be that we don’t get how things work? In God’s Kingdom, the last precedes the first. Equal reward is given regardless of hours worked. If it seems scandalous, that might be because we often prefer fairness on our terms, rather than the terms of our merciful God.

Lord, help us to make these words our own: Your kingdom come, your will be done.

—Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.