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.”
21:33 planted a vineyard … a tower: cf. Is 5:1–2. The vineyard is defined in Is 5:7 as “the house of Israel.”
21:34–35 his servants: Matthew has two sendings of servants as against Mark’s three sendings of a single servant (Mk 11:2–5a) followed by a statement about the sending of “many others” (Mk 11:2, 5b). That these servants stand for the prophets sent by God to Israel is clearly implied but not made explicit here, but see Mt 23:37. his produce: cf. Mk 12:2 “some of the produce.” The produce is the good works demanded by God, and his claim to them is total.
21:38 acquire his inheritance: if a Jewish proselyte died without heir, the tenants of his land would have final claim on it.
21:39 they seized him … and killed him: the change in the Marcan order where the son is killed and his corpse then thrown out (Mk 12:8) was probably made because of the tradition that Jesus died outside the city of Jerusalem; see Jn 19:17; Heb 13:12.
21:41 They answered: in Mk 12:9 the question is answered by Jesus himself; here the leaders answer and so condemn themselves; cf. Mt 21:31. Matthew adds that the new tenants to whom the vineyard will be transferred will give the owner the produce at the proper times.
21:42 Cf. Ps 118:22–23. The psalm was used in the early church as a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection; see Acts 4:11; 1 Pt 2:7. If, as some think, the original parable ended at Mt 21:39 it was thought necessary to complete it by a reference to Jesus’ vindication by God.
21:43 Peculiar to Matthew. Kingdom of God. Its presence here instead of Matthew’s usual “kingdom of heaven” may indicate that the saying came from Matthew’s own traditional material. A people that will produce its fruit: believing Israelites and Gentiles, the church of Jesus.
Friends, just before his passion and death, Jesus tells the striking story that is our Gospel for today. The fertile vineyard stands for Israel, his chosen people. But it could be broadened out to include the world. What do we learn from this beautiful image? That God has made for his people a place where they can find rest, enjoyment, good work.
We—Israel, the Church, the world—are not the owners of this vineyard; we are tenants. One of the most fundamental spiritual mistakes we can make is to think that we own the world. We are tenants, entrusted with the responsibility of caring for it, but everything that we have and are is on loan. Our lives are not about us.
Christ is God’s judgment. We are all under his judgment. In the measure that we kill him, refuse to listen to him, we place our tenancy in jeopardy. And so the great question that arises from this reading: “how am I using the gifts that God gave me for God’s purposes? My money? My time? My talents? My creativity? My relationships?” All is for God, and thus all is under God’s judgment.
– Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.