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Some scripture scholars suggest that today’s Gospel parable may represent an allegorization of another of Jesus’ parables by one of the early Christian communities. The parable of tenants rejecting the many messengers (i.e. the prophets) sent by the owner of the vineyard (God) would have supported this belief. In suggesting this, of course, these scholars are not in any way questioning that it is not the inspired word of God. Rather, they suggest that the early Christian community had begun to see itself as replacing Israel as God’s chosen people. Regardless of the origins of this parable, though, it contains a powerful and ever current message. It invites us to consider how we respond to the many overtures and/or messengers God sends into our lives.
As an important aside, we need to be clear that the Catholic Church does not teach that God has rejected Israel or that its election as God’s chosen people has ended. “The Church cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in his inexpressible mercy deigned to establish the Ancient Covenant.” (The Documents of Vatican II Decree on Non Christians) Our Church also teaches, though, that Jesus Christ, “the Lord, is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings.” (Documents of Vatican II; Decree on The Church Today)
Our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, shares the theme of the Gospel. It speaks of a vineyard that, despite the loving care of its owner, yielded only “wild grapes.” In the Old Testament the “Vineyard” was a symbol for God’s people.
In our second reading today from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul reminds us that by prayer and petition and thanksgiving we will come to know “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”
Questions for reflection:
- Looking back on your life can you see times when you have not recognized or perhaps even rejected messengers of God’s presence and grace?
- Who have been messengers of God’s presence and grace in your life?
- In regard to this weekend’s second reading have there been times in your life when you have experienced the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding?”