Catechesis on the Parables of Jesus: The Labourers in the Vineyard

Authored by Msgr. Paul J. Watson in Issue #31.1 of The Sower

The parable of the Vineyard Labourers, in Matt 20:1-16, raises problems for us. It is not hard to feel a degree of sympathy with the workers, who had been hired at the beginning of the day and had put in a full day’s work. Clearly, the householder is free to be generous, but isn’t there also the matter of justice?

So, once again, as with many of the parables, we are confronted with something that seems inevitably to cause a reaction in us. Perhaps by now, if you have been following the series on the Parables in The Sower, you will be suspecting that there is deeper message and meaning that will only be revealed as we learn to put aside our typical reactions. ‘Your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my ways, says the Lord of Hosts’. It appears that one purpose of the parables is to expose our ways of thinking and to contrast them with the ways of the Lord. In this way, the parables provide the opportunity, indeed the call, to a conversion of mind and heart. Surely, this is the very essence of a parable, especially those that begin: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like …’. Our Lord is calling his hearers to become conformed to a new way of thinking – a new way which we qualify us to take our place in the kingdom of heaven. The parables contribute to a process whereby we become even more conformed to Christ himself. And this process can only take place if we are prepared to let go of our natural ways of thinking, and especially of our normal reactions.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!

This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Forming Disciples who Make Disciples
By Dr. James Pauley
Free It was yet another miraculous catch of fish. When Peter saw the fish and heard John say “it is the Lord!” he dove into the water in his zeal to be with the risen Jesus, rather than waiting to bring the boat to shore. After the meal, Jesus took Peter aside and asked, “do you love me more than these?” And then Jesus asked again. And a third time.... Read more
Freeing Up for Mission: Critical Steps for the Path Forward
By Jim Beckman
Free Early Memories I had a somewhat magical season of my life that has left lasting memories for me. I was only eleven or twelve. Up until that time, life had been marked by tragedy. My dad had been injured and left paralyzed, one of my sisters had tragically died, my mom had even suffered a nervous breakdown and was away from us for several months.... Read more
Multiplication: Passing on a Message and a Mission
By André Regnier
There is a growing trend within the Church, rightly so, toward mentorship or coaching of our leaders. The idea is that great programs are not effective without great people leading those programs. Associated with this focus on mentorship is a theory some people call “spiritual multiplication”, which attempts to go one step further in mentoring... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now