Year A: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 21: 33-43
Today, Jesus offers another challenging parable. He sets the scene by describing the investment that the landowner has made in his vineyard. He details the time and energy expended in planting - fencing - digging and building - and finally, speaks of the landowner placing it under the stewardship of the tenants.
The landowner reasonably expects the tenants to fulfil their part of the deal - to pay the rent from the vintage - but the tenants have other ideas. They see the vineyard as theirs and see anyone who comes from the landowner as a threat - and deal with them accordingly.
Finally, Jesus says that they even resort to killing the landowner’s own son - and poses the question - what should the landowner do?
The answer is straightforward - the landowner will deal severely with the tenants and hand the vineyard over to others.
At this stage, they have not yet fully realised what Jesus meant.
The vineyard was an ancient symbol for Israel - God was the landowner - so who were the tenants? The chief priests and elders must have been shaken to realise that Jesus was setting the people of Israel in that role. He looks back over the history of Israel - and sees the times when the people rejected the prophets - persecuting and killing those whom God had sent. He looks ahead to the day when He Himself will be killed.
But, by their own words, is judgement given- those who do such things will find themselves brought to justice. They will lose stewardship of the kingdom and see it handed to others.
Matthew was writing for a community of Jewish Christians who were coming to terms with the fact that the Kingdom was passing from Jewish hands into the hands of Gentiles. The parable of Jesus helps to explain what is happening - and why.
There is too, a warning to those newly entrusted with the Kingdom - they do not own the Kingdom but are stewards of it - and are required to be faithful to that stewardship otherwise they in their turn may see it taken from them
What does it mean for me?
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