8 October 2017
A certain couple had 5 children, 4 of whom were generally pleasing to their parents but one of the boys, now 25, had caused problems down the years. He stole money and was imprisoned twice. He was on drugs and had children with 3 different women even though not married to any of them. Obviously he had caused great suffering and embarrassment to the family. The relatives and friends of the father of this boy have been telling him that he should disown his son but they are frustrated as each time he answers: ‘how can I, he is my son and I love him. Maybe with the passing of time he will change his ways’.
Today’s readings can be seen from the point of view of morality i.e. how are we responding to God’s call. Are we good workers in his vineyard etc. and it is one way of viewing the gospel story. But nearly always in the parables, Jesus is trying to tell us something about who God is and his unconditional love for us.
In the parable we note that the owner had prepared everything for the tenant farmers, he has planted the vineyard, put a hedge around it and erected a tower – a symbol of what God does for us in his loving care for us. Are we grateful enough for all that we have received from God.
Next, the vineyard owner, sends his servants to obtain his share of the grapes. We see the terrible response of the tenants. The owner sends more servants, thereby saying that he has forgiven the tenants their awful crime. Sadly, the same thing happens. Then, he decides to send his son, thinking that surely the tenants will respect the son. We wonder if the vineyard owner is totally naïve or crazy to risk this after what had previously been done to his servants whom he sent. Jesus is saying that this is the way God acts towards us humans. In the Old Testament God sent prophet after prophet and many were persecuted or killed. Finally God in his incredible love for us sends his Son and we know the end result. One wonders is God totally naïve or stupid or what. No wonder St. Paul speaks of ‘the foolish love of God’. The answer of course is that this is God’s nature and since ‘God is love’ according to 1 John 4.8. He is not a vindictive God or a punishing God but trying in so many different ways to show how much he loves and cares for us.
The last part of the parable is a question to the listeners and we see their reply: punish them. But God’s response is very different. The very Son of God killed on the cross will become the very Saviour of us all. However, God wants to bring about his kingdom here on earth and if some people refuse to cooperate with God he will choose others in their place not as punishment but simply that they will bear the fruit that will help to bring about his kingdom’.
What is the parable saying to me personally about who God is?
“Lord, maybe we are tempted to think that you are a punishing God or a vindictive God. Help us to hear clearly the message of this and the others parable that you are a God who loves us unconditionally and passionately. May you give us your powerful Holy Spirit to help us respond to you, simply in order to show our deep gratitude and not to try and gain your Love which we cannot do since it is freely given or we cannot lose it from your side since it is never withdrawn but sadly our sinful patterns can lead us to act like the tenant farmers in the face of your total love and concern for us.”
Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA