Monday, 1 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the parable of the vineyard tenants which was told by Jesus to the people including to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there as well. This parable tells us that there were tenants entrusted with the care of the vineyard by its owner, and yet they refused to fulfill their part of the bargain, by acting wickedly and trying to claim the vineyard as their own.

This parable is a clear representation of the reality between God and mankind, and in what God had done to men, and how men responded to the works which God had done in them. The vineyard owner himself is a representation of the Lord, who owned this universe and this world, just as the vineyard itself represents the world we are living in. The tenants represents all of us mankind, who have been given the trust to take care of the world since the beginning of time.

In the Book of Genesis, after God had created men, He entrusted to them the world to be cared of. He entrusted them with the stewardship and guardianship of the world, that they would take care of and reign over all creations in the world, but not by their own might, but because they were supposed to be the stewards of the Lord, the true Master of the world and the universe.

But we have grown proud and we gave in to our human greed, beginning from the time when we succumbed to the temptations of Satan, who tempted us with knowledge and power. Ever since then, we have desired all things to ourselves. And in the same way, we grew wicked and disobedient to the way of the Lord. We prefer to walk on our own path, and again and again, we showed that by committing ever more sins in the sight of God and men alike.

Ever since the days of Noah, the times of the Tower of Babel, the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah, the rebelliousness of the sons of Israel on their way out of exile in Egypt, the wickedness of the kings who ruled after Solomon, and the continued wickedness, eventually culminating with the corruption and the stubbornness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who rejected Jesus, the Son of God whom the Father had sent into the world.

This was perfectly represented by the parable, where the wicked and evil tenants refused to pay their due, the rent and share of the harvest which they ought to pay to the owner. Servants after servants were sent to them, but they were rejected, tortured and even murdered, precisely as how the people of God, all mankind had constantly refused to listen to God and to His messengers, and killed His servants.

And they also refused to listen to the One whom He had sent to be the Saviour of all, the Messiah and Son of God, Jesus Christ, who foretold of His own suffering and death at the hands of the wicked when He told of this parable to His disciples. It was just as the wicked tenants plotted against the son of the owner out of their own selfish desires, they were unrepentant and rebellious.

In the first reading from the Book of Tobit, we heard how Tobit, one of the exiles of the Northern kingdom of Israel after it was conquered by the Assyrians, continued to do what is upright and good in the sight of God. This is despite all the challenges that he had to face and the mockery which he had to endure from his own people, who mocked him for tirelessly helping those who were destitute and rejected themselves.

Tobit indeed suffered, and misfortunes befell him, as he lost his sight, and people continued to mock him, friends and relatives left him behind and forgot about him, but he remained faithful and devoted to the Lord, just as another faithful man of God, that is Job, had once also experience. Both remained firm in their faith to God, and in the end, they were healed and made whole once again. They received blessings and graces even greater than what they had before.

And today, we also ought to reflect on the life of St. Justin, martyr of the Faith, who was a Roman martyr of persecution of the faithful by the Romans. He was once a pagan and a philosopher, who looked for various teachers and inspirations including from the past philosophers and teachers, but he was not satisfied with all that he had discovered for many years of his education and journey.

St. Justin eventually discovered Christ through his discussion with an elderly Christian, who opened his eyes to the greatness and the truth of the Lord. He found solace and true satisfaction in the Lord, and he changed his pursuit and focus in life to serve the Lord, the one and only God of all.

He eventually preached to many people after he became a Christian, and established a school in Rome, preaching to ever more people, until his enemies and those who feared the Faith accused him of wrongdoing and he was martyred with his followers. And through that, he was raised to the glory of heaven for shedding his blood and life for the sake of the Lord.

All these examples of holy men and servants of God show us that God will reward well all those who had placed their faith and trust in him, namely, the good and faithful tenants who do things according to what they are expected to. These will receive the inheritance and the parts intended to all others who have not been faithful, the wayward and wicked tenants.

As mentioned in the Gospel, the Lord would come just as the vineyard owner came in the end to bring justice and punishment to all the wicked tenants. This should be a reminder to all of us, not to be like the wicked tenants in our lives. Rather, we should be good tenants, namely faithful servants of God and good stewards of this world entrusted to us. We should heed the examples of the holy men, Tobit, Job, St. Justin and his companions, and many others who have devoted themselves to the Lord.

Therefore, let us all pray, that all of us may grow less attached and affected by our human desires and greed, but let us all instead grow stronger in humility, and in our faith and devotion to the Lord our God, so that at the end of all, the Lord may say to us, ‘Well done, My faithful servant. Come into the inheritance I have prepared for you.’ Let us all seek this in life. God be with us all. Amen.

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