Daily Reflection – 3/10/2023
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.
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.
The only way up for you, for me, for us is to recognize that the mercy and love of God prevails. That is experienced when we build our life around him. When we make him the cornerstone of our lives. When we rejoice and thank him for what we have.
Jesus Christ came to give us grace and peace in abundance. He came so that we might know those things that make for a balanced and focused life: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, devotion, mutual affection, brotherly love, and ultimately a share in divine nature. Let’s choose him who has chosen us in this way.
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 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 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.