by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*GOSPEL: Matthew 21:33-43
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. 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 produce the fruits of the Kingdom.”
How do we measure God’s love? God’s love is beyond measure. God’s love is unfathomable. God’s love is not even easy to comprehend. Despite man’s infidelity, his love never fails. We can never measure it. We cannot simply understand it. We only need to experience it.This Sunday, we are again invited to contemplate on God’s love and fidelity against the background of man’s sinfulness and ingratitude as Jesus relates to us another parable: The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants serves to be prophetic of what might be the plight of the Son of man. It is a story of man’s salvation. Actually, it was intended to the chief priests and Pharisees who condemned our Lord Jesus to death. We see parallelisms of this parable to the sacrifice made by our Lord Jesus. We get a clear picture, that God is represented by the landowner, the prophets are the messengers, the vineyard represents Israel, the tenants are the Israelites whom God expected righteousness in return for his goodness, and Jesus is the son. The Gospel could, therefore, be summarized this way: God who is expecting a produce from His people sent messengers after messengers to remind them of their responsibilities.But they were so ungrateful that they seized, beat and killed them.Finally, he sent his only son to collect thinking that “they will respect my son.” But the son suffered the same fate.In the end, the tenants were punished for their actions.
This parable best illustrates the abundance of God’s love for us. It reveals to us the extent of His love by sending messengers after messengers and ultimately his only son.The sacrifice of His only begotten Son is unimaginable. Indeed, it proves that loving requires risk and great sacrifice.
Webster Dictionary defines “Ingratitude” as forgetfulness of or poor return for, kindness received. We received countless blessings from God, but do we remember to offer Him thanks.
The wicked tenants are a reminder of the Israelites in the Old Testament. After 430 years of bondage in the hands of the Egyptians, the Israelites were freed. God, through Moses, led them to a promised land of milk and honey. But as soon as they experienced hardships despite the fact that they were showered by God with so many blessings, they murmured, grumbled and complained against Moses, against Aaron, and against God. “Did God send us here to die, was it not better for us to return to Egypt?” Their ingratitude was indeed ignominious. God said, “How long shall I bear with this evil generation, which murmurs against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which murmurs against me.” Despite all these, God manifested only his love and fidelity. Psalm 103 says, “The love of the Lord is everlasting.” God’s fidelity and love for his people were manifested completely in Christ Jesus, His love surpassed man’s ingratitude and rejection. Indeed, nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even sin, God will never give up on people. That’s good news. Of course, His very nature is love. But lest we forget that this love demands a response from us. And it is for our own sake. God demands good works from us, just as the landowner expected to produce. Those tenants forgot that they were merely stewards, not owners. It is easy for us to judge those tenants in the parable. But somehow that is the same danger that we faced i.e. Ingratitude! Some people think that God owes them something. That they deserve something from Him. Many of us receive favours and gifts from Him, yet people forget to return these two words, “Thank you!” How many of us only come to Jesus in times of needs and troubles? And when we receive what it is we need and want, how many of us still approach him in thanksgiving? Indeed, there is wisdom in the old adage which says, “He who thinks, thanks!’
Let us always guard ourselves with gratitude. Like I could still be thankful despite life’s adversities knowing completely that God is in every step of the way. I could bear the pain and be thankful for the process if , in the end, it means healing. I could be thankful for my hardships and sacrifices if it is for the benefits of others and to glorify God. That means I could suffer from meaning and be thankful at the same time especially if it is done in the spirit of love.
But gratitude is not just a noun. It is an action word. How do we thank God? Well, simply by obeying His will.
But what happens if we have a grateful heart? God is glorified. And we have a spirit-filled life. And therefore, all the more we are blessed. The more grateful we are, the more we will experience a gracious and a loving God. Our Life, therefore, should be an endless expression of gratitude to God.