The Gospel Today
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who 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.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
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 said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
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
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
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.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
Reflection (Sem. Mark Ian V. Abu)
In our Gospel for today, the tenants got what was not theirs. The root of this was envy. Giving in to this inordinate feeling, they plotted against the son of the owner up to the point of killing him.
Many of us do not understand the difference between the meaning of envy and jealousy. To be jealous is to be possessive of something we have and to be fearful of losing it. To envy is the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another. Feelings are good but we have also to guard them. Strong negative feelings that we cannot control could make the kindest and gentlest person capable of the most unimaginable violence.
The tenants had forgotten whose vineyard it was in the first place. They murdered the servants because they wanted to enjoy the produce. They murdered the owner’s son because they wanted to have his inheritance.
All of us are working in the vast vineyard of God; may it be in our own family, in schools and workplaces. And there is a great tendency for us to think that we own the vineyard. If we forget that we are just stewards, we are prone to temptations of many kinds. One of these is envy.
We may try to exercise control over others or exclude those we see as undesirable and seemingly are hindrances to our way. At times, we may glorify ourselves on our success and good works. We forget that the real owner will return and will demand an accounting.
As we make our recollections during this Lenten journey of ours, the parable of Jesus today cries out to us: God will come to ask for what is due to Him. Have we been faithful in giving God’s claim on our time, talent and treasure? Surely, it would be very hard to give God what is truly His because all that we have and all that we are are all His!