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In our Gospel this Sunday Jesus told the chief priests and elders of the people a story and then asked their opinion. The story is simple. We are told that a landowner “planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.” Unfortunately, when vintage time drew near and he sent his servants to obtain his produce: “The tenants seized the servants and one they beat another they killed, and a third they stoned.” The landowner sent more servants, “but they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them thinking; ‘They will respect my son.’” But when the tenants saw the son, “They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” At this point, Jesus asked the chief priests and elders of the people: “’What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?’” They answered him, ‘He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants.’” Jesus concluded this exchange by saying: “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
Clearly the chief priests and elders were the target of this parable. They, like the tenants, had rejected the messengers (i.e. the prophets) that had been sent to them and ultimately had rejected God’s Son, Jesus. The parable challenges us not to reject those messengers God sends into our lives.
Our first reading this Sunday 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 of Gods people.
For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. In the section we read today Paul urges us by prayer and petition to make our requests known to God “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Has there been a time when you have rejected the “messengers” God has sent into your life?
2. Can you identify people in your life who have been messengers of God’s love?
3. When have you experienced the peace of God that surpasses all understanding?