The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. Matthew 21:42
Almighty God, your Son Jesus was the stone rejected by the builders, and, by your doing, he has been made the chief cornerstone: grant that, by the power of his Spirit working in us, we may become living stones built up into your dwelling place, a temple holy and acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
- Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
- Psalm 19
- Philippians 3
- Matthew 21:33-46
- Next week:
- Exodus 32:1-14
- Psalm 106:1-6, 20-24
- Philippians 4
- Matthew 22:1-14
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 19 – Matthew 21:33-46
The parable of the vineyard owner and his murderous tenants: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruits.”
Today’s Gospel parable “updates” Isaiah’s allegory of the friend’s vineyard (Reading 1). God is the owner of the vineyard who has “leased” the property to the religious and political leaders of Israel. Many servants (prophets) were sent to the tenants, but all met the same fate. The owner finally sends his own son, who is brutally murdered “outside” the vineyard (a prediction of his crucifixion outside the city of Jerusalem?). With this parable, Jesus places himself in the line of the rejected prophets. The owner finally comes himself and destroys the tenants and leaves the vineyard to others (the Church) who yield an abundant harvest. This parable is intended to give hope and encouragement to Matthew’s Christian community, which is scorned and persecuted by its staunchly Jewish neighbours.
Fear, selfishness and bigotry can kill whatever chances we have of turning our part of God’s vineyard into something productive; but, through justice, generosity and compassion, we can reap a rich and fulfilling harvest, regardless of how small or poor or insignificant our piece of the vineyard is.
Too often we see this “vineyard” God has given us as ours alone, and we will manipulate it, abuse it, and exhaust it to satisfy our own needs and pleasure — like the tenants in the today’s parable, we will find some way to cut down whoever challenges us or calls us accountable.
Like the tenants in today’s parable, we are too quick to reject whatever scares us or threatens us, whatever we don’t understand, whatever challenges us and the safe little worlds we have created for ourselves. In Christ, God calls us to look beyond the “stones” of our fears and welcome Christ (in whatever guise he may appear) into this vineyard of ours, aware that he calls us to the demanding conversion of the Gospel but determined to sow and reap the blessings of God’s reign.
Christ the Messiah comes with a new, transforming vision for our “vineyard”: a vision of love rather than greed, of peace rather than hostility, of forgiveness rather than vengeance, a vision that enables us to reconcile even the ugliest and smelliest dragon among us.
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