To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever and ever (Rom 16, 27)
Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. He comes to establish fully and definitively the eternal dynasty, with which God—never outdone in generosity—will repay a shepherd turned king his good intention to build him a house. And he invites us to work in this project of the kingdom like in an abundant harvest that requires workers.
The invitation alone is enough to hearten us. Jesus trusts in us so much that he invites us “to work on a masterpiece”—to use a phrase from St. Vincent de Paul—though the saint was referring specifically to priestly formation (Coste XII:14). Before us is someone who respects everyone, even the jobless who are despised by many and exploited by contractors who enrich themselves by taking advantage of cheap labor (cf. Pope Francis). In contrast, the one who ushers in the kingdom pays his contract workers more than they need to live.
The compensation for his co-workers is the enjoyment of the kingdom itself. We are so precious in the sight of God that he wants us to be members of his household. He wants us and what is best for us, not what is ours, our work or talent. It does not matter to him if we work many or few hours; he welcomes all. He makes it clear that, in the end, everything is due to his generosity, and not to our works.
Jesus plays favorites, yes, but in favor of the lowly and the poor, the least and the last. He is like his Father, who looked on the lowliness of Mary, betrothed to Joseph—both of Nazareth, a lowly village (from there supposedly nothing good could come) in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (from where no prophet arose, according to the self-righteous)—and chose her to be the mother of his Son.
Of course, Jesus’ preferential option for the poor is fully consistent with his incarnation and birth: the Son of the Most High becoming like us in all things but sin; he has humbled himself to share in our humanity so that we human may share in his divinity.
This mystery is signified and realized in the Eucharist that indicates likewise that Jesus welcomes and chooses the little folks who surely are not worthy to receive him. So then, no one—not the first nor the last to be invited—can boast before him.
Grant us, Lord Jesus, to be built together through you into the dwelling place of God in the Spirit.