“Natural resources are limited; some are not, as it is said, renewable. Using them as if they were inexhaustible, with absolute dominion, seriously endangers their availability not only for the present generation but above all for generations to come.” - Solicitudo Rei Socialis (“On Social Concern,”), Pope John Paul II, 1987, #34.
Gospel Text: (MK 12:1-12)
Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes,
and the elders in parables.
"A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey.
At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants
to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard.
But they seized him, beat him,
and sent him away empty-handed.
Again he sent them another servant.
And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully.
He sent yet another whom they killed.
So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed.
He had one other to send, a beloved son.
He sent him to them last of all, thinking, 'They will respect my son.'
But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'
So they seized him and killed him,
and threw him out of the vineyard.
What then will the owner of the vineyard do?
He will come, put the tenants to death,
and give the vineyard to others.
Have you not read this Scripture passage:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?"
They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd,
for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them.
So they left him and went away.
The chief priests and elders had forgotten the place of the Lord in their lives. They thought that they were the masters of Israel, rather than its shepherds. They thought that they were the landowners, rather than the tenants. They thought that they were the lord of the manor, rather than the stewards.
The action of the parable demonstrates just how topsy-turvy these stewards are. Believing that they’re the masters of the situation justifies, in their minds, their beating and stoning of the landowner’s messengers, and finally, their murder of his son.
Of course, you and I know how this parable turns out in real life. The chief priests, elders, and other leaders of Israel are not willing to give up the claim to be masters. So when they come face-to-face with Jesus, who is the rightful heir to the throne of Israel, there’s bound to be conflict. Like the son in the parable, Jesus is seized and put to death. Jesus is the “stone that the builders rejected” which “has become the cornerstone”.