Reflection on Matthew 21:33-46 (18th Sunday after Pentecost)

Let us Pray: Holy God, give us a willing spirit, that we may serve You with all that we have and all that we are. Help us to be faithful and fruitful in the godly use of Your resources and gifts, that we may use them in accord with Your will and for Your glory.  In Jesus Name. Amen

On the surface, the parable of the tenants is clearly presented by Matthew as a metaphor. The landowner represents God. The vineyard represents the Kingdom of God. The tenants are the religious leaders. The slaves are the prophets. The son is Jesus. The new tenants are most likely the new church. God entrusted his kingdom to the Israelites during Old Testament times. When they steered off course, God sent the prophets to try to correct them. Most did not listen to the prophets. Finally, God decided to send his son Jesus to make clear God’s message. But the leaders turned against Jesus and finally had him killed. Then most of the Jewish people refused to accept Christ. So the kingdom was given to a new people, the church.

This story is really a story about God. We find that the landowner had invested a lot in the vineyard. The landowner was an active, caring, loving landowner of his vineyard. Then he went away entrusting the responsibility to the tenants to till, cultivate, and harvest. He expected his vineyard to produce fruit.

We must note that the landowner placed a phenomenal amount of trust in the tenants, just as God does in us. After sending his representatives who were killed, He thought it was inconceivable that his own son would be rejected, so he sent him. “They will respect my son,” he says. However, the wicked tenants failed their final opportunity. In the ultimate test, the son was cast out and killed.  An ordinary landlord would have sought revenge on these ungrateful tenants. He might bring a legal action against them or even armed forces to claim what is rightfully his. But this landowner is like God, not like us. God sent his Son! The essential character of God is love, and such love is patient.  

Applying this parable to today is to point out our responsibility, our responsibility not only to God but to our environment. We are the tenants of the Kingdom of God, we have been provided with everything we need. The behavior of these tenants was the perfect example of humanity’s rebellious response to God’s love. The people of God resisting God’s love. They were a people who rebelled against God in their hearts and they were fighting always to silence God’s voice. They did not want to do the Father’s will. They did not want to give God the glory that He was due. And the Bible reminds us that we owe something back to God. You know, this is the picture of maybe church goers, even today, how we can come to church. We can hear the Bible. We can hear the preaching of God’s Word and yet we will not be willing to accept God’s love. So you see, coming to church alone is not good enough. Just like being born in the nation of Israel was not good enough. Being exposed to teaching is not good enough because the key is, is your heart willing to obey? If we really understood who is the real owner, we would not object to giving back the fruit of our labors that represent the harvest. If we look at this parable close there are several lessons for us. One is that God provides us with the tools we need to produce a harvest that we need to share. It tells us that God is loving and understanding, but also he has a limit to His patience. May we build our lives on Jesus Christ, the cornerstone.  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Celebration of the Feast of St. Francis

Collect for Feast of St. Francis

Most high, omnipotent good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy. O God, you have made us and all living things. You are even more wonderful than what you have made. We thank you for giving us these pets who bring us joy. As you take care of us, so also we ask your help that we might take care of those who trust us to look

after them. By doing this, we share in your own love for all creation. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light; and

where there is sadness, joy.

O, God, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. 

You may wish to use this prayer at home for your pet:

Blessed are you Lord God of the universe. In your infinite wisdom you created the universe and blessed us with all living creatures. I especially thank you for entrusting me with my pet, my friend, who brings me so much happiness and whose presence very often helps me get through trying times. Please bless my pet and make me a responsible steward of your creature. May we continue to give each other joy and be reminded of your power. As my pet trusts me to take care of it, help me remember to trust you to take care of me, for in so doing we share in your love for all your creatures. And especially, we remember all endangered species and ask your help in taking care of them so that we may continue to appreciate all of your creation. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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