MATTHEW 21:33-43, 45-46
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he lease it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
But they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
Has become the cornerstone;
By the Lord has this been done,
And it is wonderful in our eyes’?
Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
Friends, just before his Passion, Jesus tells the striking story that is our Gospel for today. The fertile vineyard stands for Israel, his chosen people. But it could be broadened out to include the world. What do we learn from this beautiful image? That God has made for his people a place where they can find rest, enjoyment, good work.
We – Israel, the Church, the world – are not the owners of this vineyard; we are the tenants. One of the most fundamental spiritual mistakes we can make is to this that we own the world. We are tenants, entrusted with the responsibility of caring for it, but everything that we have and are in on loan. Our lives are not about us.
Christ is God’s judgement. We are all under his judgement. In the measure that we kill him, refuse to listen to him, we place our tenancy in jeopardy.
And so the great question that arises from this reading: “How am I using the gifts that God gave me for God’s purposes? My money? My time? My talents? My creativity? My relationships?” All is for God, and this all is under God’s judgement.