Matthew 21:33- 43, 45- 46
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."
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables,
they knew that He was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest Him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded Him as a prophet.
In this Gospel Jesus shares a parable with the leaders of the Jews, perhaps foreshadowing his own fate. God the Father, who lovingly cared for and nurtured His kingdom and all the people He made a covenant with, gave the Pharisees and the Chief Priests authority over them that they may likewise care for His people. God expected to see the fruit of love, justice, piety, and fidelity but did not find it. Now He has sent His only Son to encourage and teach the chief priests to be leaders for the people to produce good fruit and what do they do? They will kill Him because they want the power for themselves, not for the Father. They reject God who is the cornerstone upon which the Kingdom is built.” Jesus concludes, "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.”
Everyone of us is responsible for another (maybe our children, our parents, a friend who needs us, a sibling, students, employees, etc.) and we are all created in God’s image, nurtured and cared for by Him. We are all responsible for how we treat others and how we use the resources given to us by God. Our power is really a responsibility to serve, given to us from the Lord, from whom all power comes. Do we see this as such? Or do we chose our own power over God? St. John Paul II conveyed this understanding to the Church in Familiars Consortia: "Thus, the Christian family...is called to exercise its "service" of love towards God and towards its fellow human beings. Just as Christ exercises His royal power by serving us, so also the Christian finds the authentic meaning of his participation in the kingship of his Lord in sharing His spirit and practice of service to man.”
How do we treat the people and things under our care? Let us reflect today on our responsibilities and how we carry them out and strive to cultivate a spirit of service. We have been entrusted with much, so let us serve much and receive God’s good pleasure.