Aug 25 / Sept 7 – Parable of the wicked husbandmen

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33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? [Matthew 21:33-42 KJV]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

How often do we remember God in our daily activities? How often do we take into account the will of God for our lives when we make decisions or react poorly to the actions of others? In the current world climate we have waves of violence being inflicted on others and their lives turned upside down in the name of progress, democracy, a religious state or just plain greed. We may all see this and cry out, share statements on social media and complain around the water cooler. But what do we do in our own lives?

No doubt we react as the world does, sternly and with a “proportional response”. We have forgotten the spirit of our WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) wristbands that are now lost in a drawer or keeping some important papers nicely rolled up. Most likely we would give into our passions and take wild offense, lashing out and playing the victim.

In this weeks Sunday Gospel, we see in parable form quite the opposite. We are brought to a “householder” that has built a winery and let it out to a group to manage. This was not a bare patch of earth, but a fully planted vineyard with all the facilities necessary to protect the harvest and cultivate it for the future. The “husbandmen” had been provided for in every way, their only task for the agreement they had made was to share the first fruits with the overseer and make a successful living.

Twice this householder sent servants and they were beaten and slain. Then his son was sent and again, at the thought of taking over the inheritance the wicked men took the son outside the vineyard and murdered him.

St John Chrysostom, in his homily #68 on Matthew, shares with us the rich typology of the householder with that of God’s relationship with Israel; Christ is speaking to many including Chief Priests in the temple [Matt 21:23], learned Jews who knew the scripture and presented to them a situation as had been given them as they left Egypt for the promised land, ” planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower” little was left for them to do but tend as stewards and worship. They were sent prophets to guide them and to share with them the word of the Lord, but like the servants in the parable they met often with criticism, distrust and an unpleasant ending.

And “He sent His servants,” that is, the prophets, “to receive the fruit;” that is, their obedience, the proof of it by their works. But they even here showed their wickedness, not only by failing to give the fruit, after having enjoyed so much care, which was the sign of idleness, but also by showing anger towards them that came. For they that had not to give when they owed, should not have been indignant, nor angry, but should have entreated. But they not only were indignant, but even filled their hands with blood, and while deserving punishment, themselves inflicted punishment. [St John Chrysostom Homily 68 on Matthew]

The typology here is evident, down to the taking of the “son” outside of the vineyard to be slain.

What will we do when God comes to ask us for our “first fruits”? Will we have offered him our prayer and worship? Will we have taken care for our neighbour and fed the hungry?Rather than a rubber band that is now in our drawer somewhere let us inscribe Christ in our hearts with prayer and repentance and look for His image in all we meet.

Glory to Jesus Christ

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