In the first reading, God, speaking through Ezekiel, laments the presence of shepherds who ignore their duty of caring for their sheep. God’s lament might not apply directly to those of us who have no sheep, or no flock dependent on our leadership.We might though, in place of the sheep we have allowed to wander off, see all the duties we have neglected, all the workplaces we need to clean up, all the letters we have needed to write, all the reading we have put off.
In much the same way, we could turn the Gospel’s lesson around to where it fits us. Taken directly, Jesus in the Gospel is saying that his heaven has room even for those who very late in life abandon their useless existence, and come to work in his vineyard.
But we could take his little story to have meaning even for those of us who have been in his vineyard all of our lives. It could be telling us that after all these years of loafing on the job we could make something of our lives but getting to work even now.