Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’
Gospel for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The good landowner has bad tenants: they lash out at all and sundry, and at the last seek to lock-in their evil and misappropriation by killing the rightful heir of the property.
The metaphor, of course, relates, to God and his people and their (our?) regular attempts to declare independence, even to the point of killing the Son of God.
God’s lordship is rejected and despised; and violence is done also to those who , in God’s plan, are our brothers and sisters.
Jesus tells the parable to those who fail to know their sin and fault, but as David with Nathan much earlier in the history of God’s people, they fail to recognise themselves in the story and so stand convicted of sin, and outraged at their own iniquity! They call down judgement on themselves…
And yet, when they do their worst against Jesus himself, he prays ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’
God’s mercy is never-ending. Sadly we have reason to fear that there are as yet very real limits on our ability to benefit from it.
- What might hold you back from receiving and living from God’s mercy?
Grape harvest. Wroxeter, Shropshire. (c) 2016, Allen Morris