And so we are invited on this day to represent God’s stake in our lives and world, invited to be generous with each other as God is with us. We are not the owners, but the tenants.
– Rev. Thomas Hall
You can find the readings for the twenty-seventh Sunday in ordinary time cycle A here.
The scripture scholar will tell you that this parable is an allegory. Some allegorical titles you may be familiar with include Animal Farm, by George Orwell, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding. In Animal Farm, written in 1945, the story depicts events in history that lead up to the 1917 revolution in Russia right through to WWII.
The characters and places in the story represent actual figures in history and the same is true for our Gospel this Sunday.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
– Psalm 118: 22-23
Matthew’s parable, written just before 90 CE, depicts events in salvation history. Typical of New Testament scripture the vineyard represented Israel with God as the landowner. The servants sent to meet with the tenants represented the prophets who had come before Jesus. As you might have guessed the Son in the parable represented Jesus.
As the story goes Jesus asked those leaders of Jerusalem when the landowner returns what will be done with those tenants? Death they said. I guess love and forgiveness is out of the question?
The moral for us is simple. We are the tenants. We can try to deny it, but the fact is we have been given the kingdom of heaven on earth to manage. Ask yourself; have we managed it well? Have we been visited by the servants of God and then beat them? How are we to manage the vineyard that God has entrusted to us?
To help get our thoughts flowing on these questions I would like to point out a common prayer that everybody knows where we pray that the kingdom on earth will be just like the kingdom of heaven. Let us begin there.
Pray then like this:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
Matt 6: 9-13
This prayer can be simply words, or it can be the mission statement for our stewardship of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
I can hear people saying that we just need bring back the discipline of our faith and the kingdom of heaven on earth can be a reality. Does this sound familiar to you?
They are echoing the words of Pope Pius X when he said our “Apostolic Mandate requires from Us that We watch over the purity of the Faith and the integrity of Catholic discipline. It requires from Us that We protect the faithful from evil and error;”
On October 3, 2014, Pope Francis I delivered a homily where he asked a simple question; “are we open to the gift of God’s salvation, or do we prefer to take refuge in the safety of our man-made rules and regulations?”
He went on to ask; “how do I want to be saved? On my own? Through a spirituality which is good, but fixed and clear so that there are no risks? Or following the footsteps of Jesus who always surprises us, opening doors to that mystery of God’s mercy and pardon?”
The Gospel parable is an allegory of our salvation. If you take one thing away from this homily it should be that we are the tenants and we decide how do we want to be treated by God for our stewardship of the kingdom? I pray that you are open to the gift of God’s salvation. Forgiveness and mercy should be the fruits that we harvest.
Follow in the footsteps of Jesus. God bless,