God’s kingdom is like, is a phrase found seven times in chapter 13 of Matthew and once each in chapters 20, 22, and 25, for a total of ten. In each case Jesus tells us a little more about the Kingdom.
If we read all ten together, we might notice that the Kingdom is action. Seeds are planted, crops are harvested, bread is leavened, treasures are sought, fish are caught. There is no parable from Jesus that includes a soft recliner and a big-screen TV.
We will also notice, especially in today’s reading, that God’s mercy is able to make the work easy. His mercy allows us to see what needs doing. His mercy gives us the courage to do it. Being a Kingdom citizen involves being an imitation Jesus every day. It is not about our being a perfect imitation, God’s mercy will smooth out the rough spots.
If we look beyond the ten parables in Matthew to Abraham, Moses, and David, we will notice that the Kingdom is filled with people who are called by God and who make the correct response to the call.
The idea of responding to God’s call put in my mind the 70s song, The Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. It’s about a man who intends to be involved in his son’s life but never seems to find the time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etundhQa724
We Christians have the same problem. I’ll get to that, God, as soon as I finish this paperwork, this project, this plan, this building, this…
We are ambassadors of God here where we live now. If I had been appointed to be the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom and I spent most of my time seeing the sights in London and eating fish-an-chips, I would have been fired.
Yet, we claim as Christians to be His Ambassadors and we fail to do our jobs. Now, God understands that we are not living in Heaven, that we must make a living and try to stay alive. But what’s to stop us from doing our Kingdom work while doing our earthly work? Talk to coworkers. Help them with their problems. Just be a friend. I’m not talking about badgering them into coming to church or preaching during lunch. Just be there. Be aware. Notice who is down, who needs a good word.
Notice that Jesus did not force himself on people. Mostly they sought him out. In a few cases, Jesus asked question which lead to him helping someone.
No doubt there were people standing near Jesus when he told the parable of hiring workers for the vineyard who were upset that the owner paid the same amount no matter how many hours were worked. Now, many jobs calculate the minutes worked and pay a per/minute rate. A century ago, most American workers expected to be paid a dollar a day. So, if someone came to work for only a couple of hours to receive the dollar, there would have been an uprising.
The difference is that there is no time clock in Heaven. We are not even paid on piece work (likely a good thing for many of us). We all will receive the same reward; Peter, John, Paul, you and me. Mercy rules.
Be righteous and do good.