tomorrow's Gospel we see this amazingly detailed parable that speaks of a vineyard that has been leased to tenants. It's easy for us to digest it just as the Pharisees did by placing each of the people mentioned in context of who Jesus was and who he was speaking of. God the owner, Jerusalem the vineyard, the wicked tenants the leaders of Jerusalem, the servants that were sent the prophets, and of course the son being Jesus himself. That's easy enough for us to see two thousand years later with all of our Scripture, our writings of the Church and magisterium. Apparently according to scripture the Pharisees themselves could easily see that meaning as well. Scripture records: When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
What about applying it to our lives though? God has given us a Church. He has declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. If we then place ourselves into this parable we see God is again the owner of course, the householder. The Church is the vineyard, surrounded by the hedge of protection, the Holy Spirit. Jesus of course would still be the son, sent to remind us to be faithful to the teachings of God.
We are the tenants in the vineyard of the Lord. He will be sending people to gather the fruit. Peace, love, joy... these are fruits.. they are spread by following those corporal works of mercy. Giving food to the hungry. Clothing the naked. Giving drink to the thirsty. These are the fruits of God's vineyard. He sends us not prophets, but homeless men and women, refugees and orphans, sinners and saints...these are his servants. They have come to collect the fruit that you and I are supposed to be producing. Are we like the tenants and refusing to give them that which God has prepared for them? Are we sharing the grace he has prepared for them in the hedged safety of the Church? Or are we holding them all for ourselves? The Owner of our vineyard will be returning at the end of time and not asking how much you know, or how many degrees you had, or how many of a specific prayer you said.. no he will be asking when I was thirsty, did you give me drink? When I was naked did you cloth me? When I was suffering did you comfort me?
God has shown that when we have good in us it increases, when we have bad in us it increases as well. Just like playing the guitar or the piano, if you don't use it.. eventually you begin to forget. It becomes harder to play, the muscle memory begins to fade. God gives us those gifts to serve with. If we don't use them? He will take them away and give them to another who will. If you aren't producing fruit, he'll find another tenant for the vineyard who will. The beautiful thing about the Church though is this, it's never too late. As we journey through the desert of Lent we can begin by seeking forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we might become better tenants, and God will take whatever fruit we produce and multiply it. Are you ready to be a good tenant? One who receives those in need of the fruit? One who receives the Son and cherishes him, lavishing him all he asks for and more? If not, what stands in your way? That's what prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is for... to help break down those walls, disciplining ourselves that we might realize that God is what is important.. not food, not money, not wealth, power, pleasure, or honor. Then God can say with confidence "They will respect my Son," who will then lead us safely in tow to that country to which the householder had journeyed to prepare a place for us, eternal in the heavens.
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."