Mt 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.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Old and New Parables

Jesus taught in parables: simple stories that communicate a moral or spiritual lesson. But did he just pull them out of thin air? More likely the air of the temple, where he would have heard Israel compared to a vine in Deuteronomy 32:32, Jeremiah 2:21, Psalm 80:8 and today’s first reading, where the Prophet Isaiah tells a parable of an unproductive vineyard (Is 5: 1-7). Jesus keeps the framework of this older parable but adds a fresh twist: the story now includes a vineyard owner’s son who is unjustly murdered by corrupt and plotting leaders.

As wildfires sweep through wine country here in California, I wonder what new parables Jesus might find walking through these devastated vineyards? I read last week that heavy smoke can imbue wine grapes with unpleasant flavors; without testing, vineyard owners can’t know for sure whether the smoke has tainted the grapes until the wine has been made. How might Jesus use present-day details to underline the old truths by which we live?

In a year marked with so much uncertainty and confusion, let’s continue to pray for everyone who turns in worry and fear to the Word of God for consolation in chaotic times.

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently in his second year of Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

 

Prayer

My God, I am yours for time and eternity.
Teach me to cast myself entirely
into the arms of your loving Providence
with a lively, unlimited confidence in your compassionate, tender pity.
Grant, O most merciful Redeemer,
That whatever you ordain or permit may be acceptable to me.
Take from my heart all painful anxiety;
let nothing sadden me but sin,
nothing delight me but the hope of coming to the possession of You
my God and my all, in your everlasting kingdom.
Amen.

—The Suscipe of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy