In today’s Gospel Jesus returns to the Old Testament symbol of the vineyard to teach about Israel, the Church, and the kingdom of God.
Jesus picks up the story where Isaiah leaves off, even using Isaiah’s words to describe the vineyard’s wine press, hedge, and watchtower. Israel’s religious leaders, the tenants in His parable, have learned nothing from Isaiah or Israel’s past. Instead of producing good fruits, they’ve killed the owner’s servants, the prophets sent to gather the harvest of faithful souls.
In a dark foreshadowing of His own crucifixion outside Jerusalem, Jesus says the tenants’ final outrage will be to seize the owner’s son, and to kill him outside the vineyard walls. For this, the vineyard, which Jesus calls the kingdom of God, will be taken away and given to new tenants – the leaders of the Church, who will produce its fruit.
We are each a vine in the Lord’s vineyard, grafted onto the true vine of Christ (see John 15:1-8), called to bear fruits of the righteousness in Him (see Philippians 1:11), and to be the “first fruits” of a new creation (see James 1:18).
We need to take care that we don’t let ourselves be overgrown with the thorns and briers of worldly anxiety. No matter what shape the vineyard of our own lives is – whether we need pruning or we seem to be in a very dry desert- if we keep our eyes on Christ as the cornerstone of our lives we will be fruitful, enjoy being tenants in God’s kingdom and receive the life God offers us.
All we need is to be faithful; God will tend us, God will take care of the rest!
Image: Kazakhstan Artist Nelly Bube