Octoberm 5,, 2014
ORDINARY 27 (A)
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
– Mt. 21: 42
Our Lord’s reason for telling this parable in the last days of His earthly ministry is not hard to discern. The vineyard stands for Israel. Instead of respecting His claim to represent His Father’s full authority over His people, the religious leaders had taken it as a threat to their authority. Things were rapidly coming to a head. The Scribes & Pharisees saw it as an either/or, a “him” or “us” situation. Jesus’ point is that getting rid of me will not mean my defeat but your own ruin. You’ll never be able to revoke my Father’s claim to absolute dominion even if you kill His Son. The vineyard does indeed belong to my Father & He will never abandon His claim. All of this applies directly to us.
We humans were called by God to be the world’s caretakers, but we have instead played the role of creation’s Lords, exploiting for our own myopic advantage the creation we were meant to cherish. Like the caretakers in the parable, we have forgotten to whom we are accountable. But Jesus will not let us forget.
Again & again He returns to call us to account. He comes in the form of the thousands who perish daily from starvation. He comes in the form of the victims of violence & their bereaved families, in the form of a poisoned environment that threatens generations yet to come, in the form of all the children who go to bed each night wondering if there will be a tomorrow, & in the form of the weak & helpless (especially the unborn & the elderly) whose lives we value so little.
The “wicked crowd” of the parable is still with us, & more often than not, we are part of it. But for those who have the eyes to see, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you & given to a people that will produce its fruit.” This parable applies directly to the Church, the new Israel of God’s own planting. It is the Church’s business to call the earth’s caretakers to account in Jesus’ name. It is her business to remind “the principalities & powers of this present time” that they are not the final authority. Alas, the Church is all too often part of the problem. What good is a light hidden under a bushel or salt that has lost its flavor?
Of all people, Jesus seems to have appreciated the true worth of human beings, their greatness & unlimited possibilities. Again & again, He reminds us that as children of God we have the power of God to make a difference. Because God is with us in a special way in the Sacraments, we cannot excuse our indifference towards our role as a caretaking community on the grounds that we are powerless or helpless.
The saints are a living testimony to what God can do when we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives, & it is marvelous to behold. Each day lived in His countenance is indeed a day which the Lord has made, which we can rejoice & be glad in it. If we Christians could really start to do that, the world would be a much happier place to live in. AMEN!