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6 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 21.33-43, 45-46

Since the beginning of time, people have been fighting over land. Arguments over ownership, inheritance, and over the failure of tenants to pay their dues have often been violent, sometimes even leading to war. Invasions, occupations and other incursions have given rise to mass forced migration, and sometimes even to ‘ethnic cleansing’. Nowhere has land been argued and fought over more than in the land where Jesus lived; where even now land has a high premium too often paid in blood.

Jesus tells of the tenants who did not want to pay up – the story appeals to all the audience’s worst fears. Having beaten the rent collector, when the landlord sends his only son, the tenants kill him. What, asks Jesus, will this landowner do? His hearers have no doubt – the landowner will kill them and hand the vineyard to someone else. Rough justice – that’s only to be expected.  

Matthew tells us the Chief Priests and the Pharisees knew the story was about them. It hit home, and it hit hard. They understood – Jesus was accusing them. They had rejected the Kingdom of God, and made it their own kingdom. Nothing, it seemed, would make them change.

The difference between the story and real life is that in real life Jesus, the Son of God, prayed as he was crucified, ‘Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.‘ Not rough justice, but tough love.

May God give us grace today not to refuse him, but always to welcome Jesus. If so we will find that love and forgiveness can be amazingly fruitful. What can you do today to sow seeds of hope which will produce fruit in peace and love for our world?

Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 21.33-43, 45-46

‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’

Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is amazing in our eyes”?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.