Sunday’s parable of the vineyard tenants is the third vineyard parable on a row. Two Sundays ago we heard the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Last Sunday it was the parable of the two sons being sent to the vineyard, and now this one. Everyone was addressed to the chief priests and scribes, and each one gets progressively more pointed.
Did they work? Did the religious leadership change? Nope. Instead they plotted all the more to kill Jesus. A few chapters later in Matthew, Jesus drops all pretence of trying to get his message across gently and blasts the leadership with the woes (“Woe to you, Pharisees…” etc).
While Sunday’s parable was addressed to the Jewish leadership, and while some can think of ways to apply it to the leadership of the Catholic Church, let’s not be too quick to do that. All of us are leaders in some areas of our lives. Each one of us has been entrusted with a particular vineyard to care for, starting at home, and extending to the workplace, parish, neighborhood, club, school, etc. Let’s look at our own tenancy first before judging how others are doing on their little plots of ground.
Furthermore, the parable gives us great insights into the way God treats us. He gives the tenants total control over the vineyard, and will not micromanage. The vineyard has everything the tenants need. On occasion, God will send us someone special who can fine-tune our tenancy, our leadership. Hopefully we can be humble enough to listen and ponder and in the end, put that practical advice to good use. If not, or if the crop does not live up to God’s expectations, then we own the consequences of our lack of care.
Now if I could only figure out one thing about that parable: what on earth makes the tenants think they will get the inheritance if they kill the son?
Love and prayers….
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.