Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (8 October)

Our Gospel passage for today comes from Matthew, Chapter 21

As we get closer to the closing weeks of Year A, the gravity of Jesus’ tone lends an almost Lenten-like quality to the news we proclaim.  Indeed, the parables of the kingdom that constitute Jesus’ response to the questioning of his authority by the temple authorities (21:23) challenge us to find what is good in ominous news of judgment.  Matthew’s version of the parable of the Wicked Tenants is the second in a series of three parables that Jesus tells in the temple. This parable is remarkably helpful for guiding reflection on the life of the Church today.  While it must be interpreted in its historical context as part of the teaching of Jesus against the religious leaders of his day, and of the reach of the gospel beyond the confines of Israel, the parable must not remain locked within the limitations of past history. As gospel, it has contemporary significance. Today’s Gospel must be read as an allegory, a form of literature in which every word and image stands for something other than what is actually being said at the time. The idea of Israel rejecting God stands at the heart of this parable. Sadly, this same problem of rejecting God takes many forms today. In the allegory, the clear reference is to the perseverance of God’s call to right living despite our repeated rejection of God’s messengers – and in some instances, rejecting Jesus himself.  When we turn to that stone that the builders rejected, it will break us down too – but only so that it can build us up again. The stone will take away our pride, our sin and our guilt. Once we have been brought down, the stone begins to build our lives upon a strong spiritual foundation. As the spiritual building goes up, we will see the fruits of the spirit being manifest in us. The world God is attempting to shape through the ministry of the Church will not be established by chance or coincidence. It will come only when we change how we live – no longer rejecting the will of the God who made us but striving to live together in peace.  What will our choice be?