“The Living God, transcendent and immanent, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the One Who is everywhere and nowhere, makes Himself visible and tangible and gives Himself to us to be our spiritual food in the Blessed Eucharist. The Blessed Eucharist is therefore not merely an object of study and speculation. It is our very life.” ~Excerpted from The Living Bread by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Monday, May 30 ~ Ninth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time
Holy Gospel: Mark 12:1-12 Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture passage: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.
Meditation: This parable speaks to each of us today as well. For it conveys important truths about God and the way he deals with his people. First, it tells us of God’s generosity and trust. The vineyard is well equipped with everything the tenants need. The owner went away and left the vineyard in the hands of the tenants. God, likewise trusts us enough to give us freedom to run life as we choose. This parable also tells us of God’s patience and justice. Not once, but many times he forgives the tenants their debts. But while the tenants take advantage of the owner’s patience, his judgment and justice prevail in the end. Jesus foretold both his death and his ultimate triumph. He knew he would be rejected and be killed, but he also knew that would not be the end. After rejection would come glory – the glory of resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father. How do we share in this glory? By submitting to Jesus’ kingly rule in our lives. Jesus promises that we will bear much fruit (certainly the fruit of peace, righteousness, and joy, and much more besides) if we abide in him (see John 15:1-11). The Lord also entrusts his gifts to each of us and he gives us work to do in his vineyard – the body of Christ. He promises that our labor will not be in vain if we persevere with faith to the end (ref. 1 Corinthians 15:58). We can expect trials and even persecution. But in the end we will see triumph.
Prayer: O God, who have made the blood of Martyrs the seed of Christians, mercifully grant that the field which is your Church, watered by the blood shed by Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, may be fertile and always yield you an abundant harvest. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: What does Jesus’ parable about an absentee landlord and his tenants say to us? The hills of Galilee were lined with numerous vineyards, and it was quite normal for the owners to let out their estates to tenants. Many did it for the sole purpose of collecting rent. Why did Jesus’ story about wicked tenants cause offense to the scribes and Pharisees? It contained both a prophetic message and a warning. Isaiah had spoken of the house of Israel as “the vineyard of the Lord” (ref. Isaiah 5:7). Jesus’ listeners would likely understand this parable as referring to God’s dealing with a stubborn and rebellious people.