Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the message of the Holy Scriptures and the Gospel today is very, very clear indeed. The Lord exhorted all of us not to follow the path of those who refused to listen to Him and those who kept evil in their hearts, for example the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, all of whom who kept in their hearts jealousy and desire, that is desire for power, authority and human praise, even above their responsibility and duty to obey the Lord and follow Him.
That was very clearly demonstrated in the first reading we have heard today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote about how God referred to Himself being a vineyard owner and master, who laboured and worked hard on a vineyard, that is the vineyard of His people. And yet, no matter what the Lord had done for them, all the love and commitment He had given to them, they produced sour fruits and were unproductive.
St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in the Roman Greek city of Philippi exhorted the people to follow the Lord faithfully, casting out any doubts and impurities that they had in their hearts, so that they might avoid any form of jealousy, hatred, and any other negativities from infecting their hearts, which is the root of all the disobedience against the Lord.
Thus, in the Gospel today, we heard how Jesus made it clear to the people, linking clearly to the message of God as prophesied by Isaiah the prophet, and as His Apostle Paul elaborated later on. Jesus mentioned in His parable when He taught the people, of the parable of the vineyard and the evil tenants. He recounted about how the vineyard owner entrusted the works of the vineyard to the tenants who repaid his kindness with vile acts and vile desire in their hearts.
Not only that they had reneged on their promise and vow, and their part of the work contract to provide the portion which had been due to the vineyard owner, but they refused to obey and budge, even to the point of torturing and refusing to listen to those whom the owner had sent to persuade them and get them to pay their due. And in the end, when the owner sent his own son, the vile tenants plotted to destroy him with the wicked aim to gain the vineyard for their own.
The parable was exceedingly clear in their meaning to us, who now know about the Lord’s revelation through the prophets and Jesus Himself, His Son, even though the people who heard it directly from Jesus at the time might not have gotten the idea through or understood the message of the parable. The parable was a clear rebuke against the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as a significant portion among the people of God who had adamantly refused to believe and listen in Christ the Lord.
The vineyard owner represented the Lord our God, the Father and Creator of all the universe. And thus, the vineyard itself represented the creation, the universe, our world. Meanwhile, the vineyard tenants referred to mankind, who had been entrusted with the care and stewardship of the world. Remember what God had said to our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, when He blessed them and granted them the authority and stewardship over all the earth and all that God had created.
But mankind sinned and rebelled against the will of God, and they refused to listen to Him and they also refused to follow and obey His will. The ones whom the owner had sent to remind the tenants and to get them to obey their part of the work contract were none other than the prophets, the messengers and the numerous servants which the Lord had sent to His people, including Isaiah, Elijah and many others, to lead them and to guide them into the path of righteousness.
However, as the parable told us, that the tenants refused to budge, and even persecuted and killed the servants sent by the master of the vineyard, the same had happened to the many prophets which God had sent to His people. In their continued rebelliousness and disobedience, they chose to ignore the words of God, and then they also tortured and killed many of the prophets and servants sent by God to lead them to righteousness.
Then, obviously, the son of the owner sent to the tenant referred to none other than Jesus Himself, and He was indeed speaking of what would eventually happen to Him, that is to be betrayed by His own people to whom He was sent to, punished and condemned for sins and problems that He did not commit, and were made to die a most shameful and painful death on the cross, just as the tenants plotted against the son to gain the ownership of the vineyard.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were the epitome of the actions of the evil tenants, perfectly representing what they had done as they rose up against Jesus and all that He did. They tried to disrupt His activities wherever He was, and they doubted Him in whatever He had done and said, and in all occasions, they tried to discredit Him by various methods and ways, only to be humiliated by the Lord who turned their devices against them.
They refused to listen to the Lord and follow Him because of the evil in their hearts, the pride that cover the breadth of their wisdom and discerning ability, and the desire for fame and worldly glory that they were blinded and deafened against the truth revealed by God through Jesus. Therefore, they sinned and sinned very greatly against God, and therefore deserved hellfire, for they did not just condemn themselves, but they also misled countless others into damnation with them.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the readings of the Holy Scripture and the Gospel today, let us all do a self-introspect on our own lives, on our every deeds and actions, and in our lives as a whole, whether we have been like the evil tenants in our actions, succumbing to our own personal desire and human weaknesses, succumbing to the temptations of sin and Satan instead of listening to God as we should have.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all throw far, far away the negative parts of our heart, kill off the pride within us, and humbly allow the Lord to come into our lives and begin to transform our lives for the better. Let us all also come to realise how important it is for us all to work together as fellow children of God, to help one another that we may grow stronger in faith, hope and love.
May Almighty God, the sower of all the good in the world, help us to grow stronger in faith, in our hope, and most importantly, in our way of loving God and one another. May He grant us strength and perseverance, to lead a righteous life freed from our iniquities and unworthiness. God bless us all, always, now and forever. Amen.