Gospel Reflection Oct 4 – Deacon Don
Sunday, October 4
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 21: 33 – 43
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
As we enter yet another election season, all of us find ourselves in an environment where more and more behavior presses toward extreme causes and attempts to normalize that behavior to win a broader base of acceptance. In pressing these causes, unwittingly, the tactics used to win the day move toward an acceleration into more extreme behavior, which then must be justified as necessary in order to match the corresponding accelerated behavior of the opposite view.
We see this kind of miscalculation of progressively deploying more extreme actions of the tenants in today’s Gospel. The tenants move to take and then justify what is not theirs — eventually killing the owner’s own son and believing that this will win the day and inherit the land from the father. We can easily understand the twisted thought process of the tenants believing this act is a viable tactic. The clearly misguided extreme behavior made sense to the tenants. It seems that extreme behavior reduces the hope to tolerating a different view until tolerance and dialog is eliminated altogether.
It seems we have some challenges ahead of us despite all the rhetoric to the contrary and during a year of a pandemic to boot. We need to walk back the extreme rhetoric from both sides and acknowledge that all creation is the Creator’s and we are but its temporary tenants. As tenants, we must care for what we have been given and respect the messengers sent to us by the Creator. We are the workers of the harvest to function with the Creator and not be the master over the Creator. The fruits of our labor are not control over the land we have been entrusted and suppression over the loser. We are challenged to plant, hoe, water, nourish, weed, and harvest the fruits of what we have been given as tenants — not owners. Perhaps it is time to walk back our words and deeds and acknowledge what has been given to us at the peril that “…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
-Deacon Don Poirier