Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gospel Text for Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Matthew 21:33-46 Jesus said, "Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press 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 produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

1 comment:

  1. I notice this is a teaching story, a parable, in which the landowner represents creator God who provides absolutely everything necessary for life in the vineyard or kingdom for the tenants and for us. But something goes awry. Either out of fear that there was not enough to go around or perhaps due to raw greed, the tenants refused to share the abundance of the harvest that was provided for their benefit. They somehow overlooked the fact that the vineyard, complete with fence and tower and vines and everything needed for an abundant harvest was leased to them, in other words, provided for them by the landowner. Everything they had was pure gift! It seems a question they failed to ask themselves was, how can we possibly exclude someone from the fruits of this harvest that was freely given to us?

    The conceptual artist Marc Blane challenges us with his evocative work proposed in the posted image. In “Nature of Exclusion” Blane proposed, “To install a private garden surrounded by a shatterproof glass barrier in Turbine Hall. The public can view the garden from the outside. Chosen people will be allowed inside the garden, by invitation.” Blane’s work challenges 21st century culture and the politics of exclusion that I would argue is largely responsible for poverty, suffering and the rapidly increasing gap between insiders and outsiders (think inside traders and outside losers), the haves and the have nots.

    The issue of insiders and outsiders is wrestled with throughout Matthews gospel written at a time when class and race and gender and religious distinctions privileged a few at the expense of the masses. I feel a weight on my heart as I look around and see that in spite of all the blood and tears spilled for the human right for inclusion we have not traveled far beyond the exclusionary politic of Matthew’s vineyard tenants (we still argue over who has the right to eat, to shelter, to love…. you name it). Holy God, give us the minds to know that all that we have is pure gift and the hearts to open the gates of your vineyard to all people.