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It Is Wonderful in Our Eyes
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
“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.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
Opening Prayer: Lord God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear your words. Teach me to see as you see, to listen as you listen, to love as you love.
- Mirror, Mirror: The crowds regarded Jesus as a prophet, and so he was. The words of God proceeded from his mouth (cf. Jeremiah 1:9), and the spirit of God dwelt within him (cf. Ezekiel 2:2). Jesus is a prophet who told us a parable about the historical prophets and their reception by the people of Israel: “one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned.” Jesus would suffer too. He was destined to be the stone rejected by the builders. Yet he was not only the Prophet preaching about the prophets, but also the Son preaching about himself, symbolized by the son of the landowner murdered outside his own vineyard. He foresaw his own death, and still he accepted it, because it was through this rejection that he would become the cornerstone.
- Eyes to See: In Matthew 11:15, Jesus says, “Anyone who has ears should listen!” And again in Matthew 13:16, he says, “Blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!” His message is clear: eyes and ears open! In today’s passage, Jesus says directly, “Hear another parable.” And the parable concludes: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables…” No doubt about it, they comprehended his meaning. Their understanding of Jesus’s message was, in fact, the basis for their hatred of him. And what did we find the tenants of the parable doing, just before they killed the son? They saw him. Seeing and hearing go both ways—one way to life and the other way to death. Choose life, choose the works of the Lord, for they are “wonderful in our eyes.”
- Vision of Love: The English word “respect” comes from Latin “respicio, respicere,” meaning “to look back at,” or more generally “to regard” or “to respect.” Both “regard” and “respect” appear in this passage; the landowner thinks, “They will respect my son,” and Jesus’s listeners “regarded him as a prophet.” How do we see Jesus? If we want to see as God sees, Jesus tells us where to look: “Did you never read in the Scriptures?” he asked. His listeners learned in the Scripture passage Jesus quoted that he is the cornerstone, rejected by the builders. We also learn what God wants us to know when we read, reflect, and pray with the Scriptures.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, open the eyes of my heart! I want to see anew all that you have done and continue to do to help me, to bless me, to give me your grace, to save me. We are your vineyard, the apple of your eye.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will let the things I see lead me to praise God. Earth and sky, bless the Lord! Fire and ice, bless the Lord!
For Further Reflection: Read St. Peter’s first apostolic speeches on God’s attempts to save his vineyard Israel by sending Jesus Christ: Acts 2:14-36 and Acts 3:11-4:12.
written by Br. Erik Burckel, LC