Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others.
Have you not read this Scripture passage: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.( Mark 12:1-12)
The parable of the absentee land owner and the tenants is rich in meaning for us.
Jesus’ listeners would likely understand this parable as referring to God’s dealing with a stubborn and rebellious people. But this parable speaks to us today as well.
It richly conveys some important truths about God and the way he deals with his people. All that we possess is given to us in trust. This means that while we may use what we have, we have also to be concerned about those who do not have and be generous with them. We have been given a world that is rich in his blessings. We are expected to tend it, to cultivate it for the good of all. But too many forget that. Instead personal greed and selfishness rules and the things of this world are exploited for personal good. Selfishness on our part leads to our thinking that we must use the things we have exclusively without even the thought of sharing them with others.
Each time that happens then Jesus Christ, the cornerstone, is rejected.
The true “landlord” waited for humankind to take the path of brotherhood, of common cause, of forgiveness. He then sent His Son. What did some do? Just as in the parable, the son of the Master is put to death outside the vineyard. Does that not happen today? Jesus Christ died for you and me. He gave his earthly life so that we could know eternal life. What greater gift could be given to us. The world today is replete with millions who seek to repay that gift. But around them, darkness prevails and seeks to dim the light of love, forgiveness and compassion. We are living in a world where we are witnessing scenes that are even more severe than in the parable . . . war, violence, brother set against brother, terrorism—everything that is antithetical to His word.
But hope prevails. Jesus promises that we will bear much fruit (certainly the fruit of peace, righteousness, and joy, and much more besides) if we abide in him (John 15:1-11). The Lord has entrusted his gifts to each of us and he gives us work to do in his vineyard — the body of Christ. He promises that our labor will not be in vain if we persevere with faith to the end (see 1 Cor. 15:58). We can expect trials and even persecution. But in the end we will see triumph and we will know union with His father.
Prayer of The Day
“Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us; for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. O most merciful redeemer, friend, and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, for your own sake!” (Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester, 13th century)
How easy it is to be forgetful of God’s blessings! The cultivation of a life of faith and an awareness of God’s goodness are essential in order for us to be His light. And we should never imagine that God’s blessings are rights instead of gifts. The tenants of the parable made this mistake. They had forgotten the work of the landowner, which gave meaning and purpose to their own. All that we are and all that we have is a gift from Him who loves us. Let each of us strive to live in gratitude for those gifts.