The Lord spoke this parable: “There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’” St. Matthew. 21:33-42
The parable we read today, about the landowner and his contract-breaking tenants is very dangerous. Here, surely, is a message for someone else, which we can read without worrying! The parable is obviously directed against the Jews for their resistance to God and their rejection of God’s Son. St. Matthew makes it clear that the religious authorities of Jesus’ day saw themselves in the parable. They got the message and they didn’t like it … It’s about them.
The gospel shows how the relationship-loving God the Father, according to the scriptures, sent His only-begotten Son into the world to save it through the passion of the cross, resurrection and glorious ascension. And while this parable is a story from back then, it is also a universal story, expressing truths that catch all of us in its headlights. It’s about us, too.
We are challenged to produce fruit of righteousness in our lives while here in the vineyard. But, keep it straight. The Lord does not care for results. He cares for us.
Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything. Thomas Merton
The tenants were not willing to be in relationship with the landowner. They did not want to let go of control and live according to the commandments and preserve their baptismal garments undefiled. Are we? We have a landowner that desires to cooperate with us. This is some of the news that is so good. We have a landowner that desires us to be partners with Him. He wants us to work out our salvation and participate with Him in salvation. He will come for what belongs to Him and we must remain open to Him. We must be who God is calling us to be.
The Lord is calling us and the Holy Spirit has shown us that it is right that we must not lose faith in God or other people. That we must be sweet and sound of heart no matter the treachery or meanness we encounter or have to endure. We must stop minding little stings and open our hearts and minds and eyes to see that God is God and that he is going to judge us for what we have done and what we have failed to do. He is unrelenting in his love, do not resist him like the tenants.