Daily Bulletin – 3/22/19
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 leased 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.( Matthew 21: 33-43, 45-46)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus sums up the history of salvation, past, present, and future. The vineyard is the world, given to men by God for them to “cultivate and care for” (Genesis 2:15). The tenants are the leaders of God’s Chosen People. The owner is God himself. The servants and the son are the prophets and Christ himself. Sin is the tenants’ “wretchedness,” by which they rebel against the owner out of utter selfishness and greed.
The parable applies just as easily to every man and woman. We are each given a vineyard: our own life. We are each given all the means necessary (the hedge, the tower, the wine press) to live that life in accordance with God’s plan for us. We are each given many, many chances to put our lives right with God, honoring him and loving him by living as he designed us to live. And each of us, in some way, has been introduced to the owner’s son, Jesus Christ. It seems from the Gospel texts that few chief priests and elders actually repented and accepted Christ’s message.
It’s easy for us to deplore such hardheartedness, but before doing so, we should see what kind of fruit our own vineyards are producing, and how much our lives are giving glory to God instead of trying to steal glory for ourselves. At one period of my life, I was gifted with an international assignment. It was one of the richest ministries of my life. But I am still haunted by a parishioner who called me to task for saying that we are all called to be Christ. Painfully, I listened to his harangue that none of us could be Christ. That he lived a good life and that should be enough.
The saddest part for me was realizing that all the classes I taught, the weekly sermons, the outreach ministries, none of these had a true effect on him. There will always be those who have a narrow plot for their vineyard and refuse to expand it. For me, the counter balance was that there were far more parishioners who kept on expanding their vineyard each day, never content with what it was and always seeking to grow more.
Prayer of The Day
Jesus, thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for being so patient with me. Thank you for inspiring good desires in my heart. Lord, teach me to be truly humble, to place all my confidence in you, and to learn the secret of lasting joy. Make me a channel of your peace.
What are you saying to me that I am not hearing? What relationship do I need to reform? What responsibility am I neglecting? What mission am I ignoring? Lord, I know that following you will always require the painful steps of humility. Never let me take any other path. Never let me be separated from you,