God does not play by our rules- Wednesday, 20th week in ordinary time – Mt 20:1-16

 The parable of the labourers in the vineyard is unique to the Gospel of Matthew and found in no other Gospel.  Matthew, who follows the narrative of the Gospel of St Mark, breaks the flow of St Mark to insert this parable. What then did Matthew want to communicate which the other Gospels did not seem to be too interested in?

We have to constantly place the Gospel of Matthew in its historical and social context. Written in approximately 80 to 90 AD, the Gospel is principally addressed to the Jewish Christian community who lived in some proximity to Jerusalem.  However the Jewish Christians were not the only ones attracted to the message of Jesus.

Paul, by this time, had already criss-crossed the Roman world. He had evangelized in Antioch, Macedonia, Achaia, Asia Minor and finally in Rome. It is possible, that by the time Matthew had written the Gospel, Paul was already martyred under Emperor Nero. From the Acts of the Apostles, we can safely surmise that the message of Christ found appeal in both Jewish Christians and even more among the Gentile Christians. Here in lies the problem

Central to the council of Jerusalem, which took place in about 49-51 AD (Gal 2:1-10; Acts 15), was the contentious issue of the Gentile converts as a result of Paul’s missionary activity.   Some sections of the Jewish Christians felt that these converts needed to be catechised in the Jewish traditions of circumcision, ethics and dietary habits. The council however, swung in Paul’s favour, albeit with a couple of riders. The Church now began to open its doors to the Gentiles.

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