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They Will Respect My Son
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, here I am—teach me to pray. I know that you are here with me and listening—thank you. Help me to be open to hear your voice speaking in my heart.
- Leasing This Vineyard: The tenants in this parable were a little too attached to the vineyard they were cultivating. They had forgotten that the land was not theirs—it belonged to someone else who was going to demand a return on his investment. It is so easy for us to get comfortable with our lives and start to think that we have everything under control. Christ is asking us to remember that following him demands radical faith. As Charles de Foucauld said, “The moment I realized that God existed, I knew that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone…Faith strips the mask from the world and reveals God in everything. It makes nothing impossible and renders meaningless such words as anxiety, danger, and fear, so that the believer goes through life calmly and peacefully, with profound joy—like a child, hand in hand with his mother.”
- “Surely They Will Respect My Son”: It is impossible not to be touched by these words of Christ: “…Surely they will respect my son…” When he tells this parable he has only a week to live, and he knows it. He has always known it. But still he chooses to come to Jerusalem to die. “Surely they will respect my son…” Almost as if he chooses to turn a blind eye to reality. But no, this is not Christ being naive; this is Christ being human. He grieves with his very human heart at the Pharisees’ hardheartedness, the world’s hardheartedness, our hardheartedness. Let’s take a moment, before thinking about how to change our lives or what we can do better to serve Christ, to try just to experience the sorrow Christ must be feeling. He loves us and, though we do not deserve it, he comes to save us. Let us ask Christ to show us all he has done for us, and ask God the grace to grieve for not having respected his Son.
- Not a Gospel of Fear: Hearing about the “wretched death” the unfaithful will face might cause us to feel anxiety or fear as we reflect on our own inevitable judgment. We can wonder, “Am I bearing fruit?” Am I rejecting Christ also?” A moment of self-examination before the Lord is always appropriate, but only when we remember who the landowner is. He built a vineyard for us, he allows us to live here, and he sent his Son to redeem us. Our good God is not a boss nor a slave master. He is not going to judge us based on the external things we have done for him, but on the fruits of love that we have borne. Am I bearing fruits of love? Am I trying to love Christ and others more each day?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I see all around me how you are scorned, mocked, and ignored by the world. I want to make up for all the pain you receive from the world—accept my little love as some consolation.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to alleviate someone’s suffering with a smile, a touch, or an assist, as a small remedy for the countless times you are disrespected.
For Further Reflection: Christ has something similar to say in Luke 13:34—it is so painful for him to experience rejection, not for his sake, but for ours.
Written by Brother Riley Connors.