Friday, March 21, 2014

“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process.”

“Never was the victory of patience more complete than in the early church. The anvil broke the hammer by bearing all the blows that the hammer could place upon it. The patience of the saints was stronger than the cruelty of tyrants.”

Gospel Text: (MT 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.

I want to focus on two details of this parable. The first is that the tenant farmers believe that they will obtain ownership of the vineyard if they continue their violent treatment of the landlord's representatives. What could have given them such an idea?

The farmers forgot that they did not own the land. They were only stewards. As tenants, the workers had the obligation to return to their landlord a portion of the proceeds of their labor. Perhaps when they began to work and saw the fruit of their labor, they conveniently forgot that their success rested upon the blessings provided by the owner.

Does this sound familiar?

How easy it is to be forgetful of God's blessings! The cultivation of a life of faith and an awareness of God's goodness are essential in order to avoid this pitfall. And we should never imagine that God's blessings are rights instead of gifts. The tenants of the parable made this mistake. They had forgotten the work of the landowner gave meaning and purpose to their own. They could not be satisfied until they owned everything.

Does this ring a bell?

Recall one of the earliest passages of Scripture, when Adam and Eve are tempted by the Devil to turn away from God. "You will be like God," he promised them (Genesis 3:5), if only they would decide to be masters and not servants.

The second aspect of the parable I would like to draw attention too is God’s patience with His people. God sent and continues to send emissaries among the people - the prophets - to call them back to a richer, fuller participation in the divine promises; they were often met with rebellion. Nevertheless, God was patient, even to the point of sending his divine Son, who will be slain in the vain attempt of some to preserve or acquire what is not theirs.

The forbearance of God is astounding in this parable. God is so patient with us! He goes beyond the bounds of justice to give us every possible chance to respond to him, because of his love for us. Who of us would be as patient as he, especially in light of the circumstances described in the parable?

May we never forget God's blessings, and always recall that we are stewards and not masters of God's gifts.

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