THEME: OUR RESPONSE TO THE VINEYARD OWNER
(Isaiah 5:1-7; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21: 33-43)
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6)
The imagery of the vineyard is used in the parable just as it was used by Isaiah in the first reading. Isaiah, in the first reading, refers to Israel as the vineyard of the Lord. In the first reading, the Lord himself planted the vineyard but it did not produce adequate fruits and the Lord threatened to destroy the vineyard. While in the parable, the vineyard most probably produced the fruit but the tenants refused to render the produce to the owner of the vineyard. They rather maltreated and even killed those sent to bring the produce, including the son of the owner of the vineyard, misappropriating the produce, in an attempt to take over the ownership of the vineyard. This time around the threat is not to destroy the vineyard but to replace the tenants. He will replace it with a people or nation that will produce its fruit.
The parable reveals God’s extra-ordinary generosity and trust. The vineyard is well equipped by Landowner with everything needed by the tenants. And the Landowner went away and trusts the vineyard to the Tenants. Also, God creates us, bestows us with talents, trust and freedom to run our life as we choose. God does not police us around; rather He leaves us to make judicious use of our talents, gifts, with freedom and to bear Him good fruit with our lives.
Also, the parable reveals of God’s patience and justice. The Landowner endures and forgives the Tenants their ungratefulness many times. But the Tenants rather take advantage of the Landlord’s patience and misappropriate the vineyard. Let us not take the patience of the Lord for granted.
The world as a whole constitutes the vineyard of God, which he has graciously leased to us. We are not the owners of the vineyard. God owns the vineyard and wants it occupied by faithful stewards. It is not possible for humans to take absolute and unaccounted ownership of the world. We are tenants and our stay on earth is short. And we shall render account at the end. Let us submit to God, the everlasting owner of the vineyard. Empty- ‘with nothing’ we came into the world, and we shall go to our home land leaving the world with nothing; God is the vineyard owner and all things shall return to Him.
Dear sisters and brothers, as a church and as individual Christians, we are called upon to bear praiseworthy fruits, which Paul, in the second reading, enumerates as whatever that is honourable, just, pure, lovely and gracious. These are practical aspects of the Christian life. Such fruits are possible only when we allow God to direct us, because he is the owner of the vineyard.