Returning a Portion of the Crops

3.2.18  Fri.  Wk 2 – Lent  (II)
Genesis  37: 3 – 4, 12 – -13a, 17b -28a
Gospel  of  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.

The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                   Returning A Portion of the Crops

As †Jesus told this parable you can imagine Him looking around the hills of Galilee because there were numerous vineyards throughout Galilee.  And it was a common practice at the time, for landowners to lease their land to tenants.  Then the tenants themselves would prepare the land for the vineyard, they would do everything to produce a successful crop.  Oftentimes, the rent for the property was paid to the landowner – by a portion of the crops.

In the parable – †Jesus uses the landowner as an image of God.  The landowner in the Gospel does all the preparation work for the tenant.  He prepared the ground, put a hedge around the property to protect the vines, dug the wine pit, built the tower, and even planted the vineyard.  All the heavy lifting was done.  The tenants only had to care for the crop; that was all they had to do.

What †Jesus is teaching us is that God is that generous and thoughtful landowner.  The Father has done everything for us.  When it came time to pay a price for our sins, He sent His Son as the Sacrifice.  We do not have to die for our sins.  All the spiritual heavy lifting has been done for our salvation.  All that God asks of us – is to return the goodness, the kindness, and the love that He has shown to us.  That’s all!   We must never forget however, that we are the tenants – we are not the owner.  That was the mistake those in the parable made.  They thought they were the owners of the vineyard.  Life is not about me;  God is God, I am not!  Thanks be to God!

How is our production of fruit going?   Is our life producing the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22)?  Are these what we are producing and are we giving them back to God in the form of expressing these gifts – these fruits to others?

The parable teaches us about God’s generosity and trust.  He has given us everything we need to produce goodness in our life, to become holy, to become saints.  As the landowner entrusted the tenants with the vineyard, God trusts us enough to give us the freedom to live our lives as we choose; that’s our freewill.  If we want to reject God, we can do that.  He trusts us enough with the gifts that He has given us that will produce good.

The landowner was patient with his tenants when they didn’t produce for him, or give back to him; just as God is patient with us when we ignore His voice.  We can choose to be like the tenants in this parable, we can use selfishly for ourselves, the gifts of God’s generosity and trust and patience in us, but at some point – a time of reckoning will take place.

The Season of Lent is a time we consider how we have not responded to the Lord’s generosity to us.  We examine our faults and seek guidance from the Spirit.  How can I change my life to reflect more – the generosity and the love of God?  What can I do during this season to reflect that love and generosity of God?  Can we extend it – even to those difficult people we find around us – the people who can be a ‘pain in the neck’ sometimes.  Can we show the same generosity of God to them, the same patience as God has shown to us?

In the first reading we have the story of Joseph and his brothers.  After his brothers beat him and sold him into slavery, we know that later, he forgave them.  He didn’t hold a grudge.  Who do we need to forgive in our lives – unconditionally?

As we read in John’s Gospel (chapter 15) the Lord promises that we will bear much fruit ‘if we abide in Him’.   If we imitate His love and His patience and His goodness – we will abide in Him.  We have all been entrusted with His gifts; He has given us His grace so that we can grow in holiness.  And we have been given work to do in this earthly vineyard among the Body of Christ – among one another.  How are we doing with that?  How are we working with one another to build up the Body of Christ?

Let us follow and serve the Lord with a joyful hope and an unwavering confidence.  And let us return to the Lord a portion of the grace that we have received.  Let us express the love and generosity and the patience of God toward one another.

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.