March 17, 2017
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
The Gospel Today
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. Edgar R. Calma)
One of the painful experiences that a person may encounter in life is rejection. Most of us have our own share of stories when we were rejected. To be rejected by someone or a group of people presupposes a relationship. We can never experience rejection if there is no relationship binding us together. The reason why it is very painful and sometimes excruciating is because of the relationship that was built over the years — a relationship built on trust and goodwill that can be shattered by rejection.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus said to the chief priest and the elders of the people, “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. (cf. Mt 21:42)” Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself experienced how it is to be rejected by the Pharisees and the elders of the community during His time. And, it was not only rejection that He encountered, but moreover, persecution leading to His passion, crucifixion, and death on the cross. In fact, the rejection, persecution and the paschal event of our Lord Jesus Christ became the climax, apex and turning point of our redemption. The grace of Christ’s rejection and persecution is our redemption.
As we recall the painful memories of rejection, persecution and sufferings, there is a greater tendency to also reject or forget such memories. Let our experiences of rejection be not rejected and denied in our memories but still become part of our maturity by looking at them as blessings. The greater invitation to all of us who have experienced painful and excruciating events in our lives is to allow God to bless and strengthen us through these experiences. Definitely, this kind of attitude towards rejection and persecution will not be a walk in the park. It will entail solitude, silent suffering, patient endurance, and willing embrace of the pruning and purification that these experiences will deform and form in our lives. Concrete manifestation that we are growing in this process of purification is when we see rejection as part of our lives and God’s intimate moment with us because of His abiding presence.