October 5, 2008
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 21: 33-43
"Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, 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 said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time." Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are truly amazing. You bring good out of our evil ways. I believe that you are loving and patient, but also just. You respect me even if I reject you, if I never turn to you. I want to learn my lesson in time and convert my life towards you. Your mercy is great, so I hope in you. When I come to you, you forget my past and encourage me for the future. I cannot help but love you, since you have loved me first, far beyond what I deserve.
Petition: Lord, help me to produce fruit for your Kingdom.
1. A Fully-furnished Paradise
God gives me so many gifts, with intricate details, for my good. The vineyard, fully-furnished with a fence, a winepress and a tower, is the symbol of one such gift given by God, one which he has made without any help from me. It is an utterly free and unforeseen gift. Can I reflect on the gifts that God has given me, material and spiritual? This should make me grateful in thoughts, words and actions.
2. Lease-to-own or Take by Storm?
Unfortunately, my reaction to God’s gifts is often like that of the tenants who have leased the vineyard. The owner, who represents God, intends to give the tenants ownership of the vineyard in due time, when they have collaborated to make the vineyard bear fruit. However, the tenants do not want to lease-to-own in due time, but instead violently assert their own will, forgetting that all is gift. If I do not recognize everything is a gift from God – from my life, to all that I am and possess – my selfishness can come unchained. I risk going so far as to attack Jesus, the Son of the Gift-giver, when he comes to ask for the fruit due to his Father.
3. The Amazing Cornerstone
Although I tend to be ungrateful, like the tenants in the parable, God remains constant in doing good. He makes his Son, Jesus, who is put to death by us men – by me and my selfish sins – the source of salvation. This goodness of God is described as “amazing” in the Gospel. Indeed, God is amazing in his plan of salvation. This should awaken in me the desire to produce fruits for his Kingdom, awaken the gratitude that will jump-start me into being generous in my self-giving.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, you are the cornerstone of the Church, the beginning of the edifice of salvation. You call me to contribute by being a living stone in that construction. I want to lay down my life, seeing that you have done so first – for me!
Resolution: Conscious of all that God has given me, I will be grateful in my recognition of those gifts by sharing my faith with someone today.
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