“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.
Most of us work hard to build our lives. Through our presence and work in a place, we stake a claim to “what is ours.” If someone challenges our claims, we can feel threatened. We might seek to rid ourselves of this stumbling block, undermining the authority of the challenger by spreading malicious gossip or by working to neutralize their threat.
But what if this stumbling block, this stone we reject while “building” our lives, is actually the cornerstone upon which the Lord wishes to build a life for us? The vineyard in which we work is not ours, no matter how hard we may work within it. Let us learn to find our joy not in claiming the fruit of the vineyard for ourselves (which would be stealing), but rather let us rejoice in offering it up to the one who allows us the privilege of working in his vineyard for the salvation of all.
Heavenly Father, so often we seek comfort and security in building a life for ourselves, in claiming a place for our own. Perhaps we think that we have a right to more because we have worked harder, or been in a place longer, or know more, or because we belong to this or that family or group. And, indeed, people do let us have our way if we have the means to pay the price.
But the vineyard is yours, Father. We have gotten so used to thinking that it was ours, and we have done so for so long, that we drive out anyone who would suggest that we did not build our lives by ourselves. When you sent your Son, we killed him, so that we would not have to surrender our claims. But he willingly surrendered himself to us and preferred our lives to his own. So now, moved by his great love, we discover that not only the fruit of the vineyard but our very lives were yours the whole time. Take them, Lord, and let us no longer be thieves, claiming what is not our own, but rather grateful co-workers with your Son in your vineyard, so that we might no longer act as your enemies, but as the friends that he wishes us to be. Amen.
—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ
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