The Parable’s speaking to us today
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus is sharing another parable with the people of Israel. In this instance he is
answering the question, “What is the kingdom of God like?” What is remarkable in the parable is Jesus’ ability to
speak directly to his first century audience, but also to speak to our realities today?
We first read from Isaiah 5 that the vineyard symbolizes Israel. Since the vineyard has been planted by God, it
represents the gift and love of God. Yet the vineyard also demands the labor of the farmer that enables it to produce
grapes that yield wine. It symbolizes as Fr. Rosica says in his reflection “the human response and personal effort
and the fruit of good deeds.”
If the vineyard refers to Israel, then the tenant farmers represent Israel’s religious leaders, who despite their professed
loyalty to Israel’s law, refuse to give God his due by acknowledging and accepting God’s mighty presence in
the life and mission of Jesus. It is very similar to last week’s reading where the first son accepts the mission of the
father, but later turns away from it. When successive servants are sent to the “tenants” – and killed – they heard
Jesus remind them of the habit leaders had in ignoring many of the warnings the prophets had previously announced.
The religious leaders were being criticized for ignoring their own God-sent messengers. The vineyard is Israel and
the landowner is God. This shows that everything on earth belongs to God, as he is the creator of all things. The
slaves sent to collect the produce are the prophets sent to Israel. The son whom the tenants throw out of the vineyard
and kill is Jesus, who died outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus is speaking to us today as much as He is speaking to the first century Jews. We must
focus attention not so much on what the passage has to say explicitly about Jewish leaders, but as to what it implies
about Christians. The “others” to whom the vineyard is given over in verse 41 are accountable to the owner. They
too are charged with the heavy responsibility of producing the fruits of the kingdom.. This reading compels us to
look at our lives, our attitudes and actions, in light of whether we will embrace or reject Jesus’ saving message. We
must ask: what does it say about us Christians? What is my vision of the kingdom of God? How am I producing a
harvest for God’s kingdom, in my private and in my church life? What does the parable say to me about my own
relationships with family, friends and colleagues? What does the story teach me about my inability to forgive others
and forgive myself? How do I respond to God’s boundless mercy and goodness that He offers me each day?
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald