Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Vineyard Parable of the Landowner & Tenants (2014-10-05)

[__01__]    This Sunday, we read the parable of the tenants and the landowner and the vineyard.

The tenants, we would understand, have signed a …

  • Contract   (OR)
  • Lease agreement (OR)
  • Covenant / agreement  … with the landowner.  
 These tenants – they – dig, cultivate, work the land, prune the grapevines, harvest the grapes by their efforts.

In a strictly agricultural or agri-business or wine industry context, the tenants are the stewards, the caretakers of the soil, the hillside, the vines.

On this weekend of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, they would be reminded of their responsibility to care for all of God’s blessings and creation – animals, sun, moon, stars, even the rainfall and precipitation.)

From the business perspective of the tenants, they can certainly legally – and contractually – keep some of what they grow.

[__02__]      You and I receive certain gifts, certain treasures. But, in all of them, we are not simply trying to figure out what to plant and bury in the ground for our sole personal use later.

Rather, we are called to consider what we can harvest and give back …


[__03__]      OUR INTELLIGENCE / EDUCATION – for all of us, young and old, in school and out of school, we are called to use our intellectual gifts for the good of others.

Doesn’t this apply to everyone…not simply to scientists, engineers, medical doctors?

That is, that we use the gift of our intelligence for God’s goodness. And, for you – boys and girls – to use your minds, your energies, your studies, to serve him.

So, in doing your homework, by staying in school, yes, you are giving back.

You are similar to the tenant who willingly gives up the grapes, the fruit to the landowner.

However, doing your homework, staying in school is only 1 part of this covenant – this agreement – between you and God. The Lord will send his servants to get the harvest…

The Lord will send teachers, parents, supervisors …  to obtain the best from  us, sometimes to ask us to do more than we we are willing to do …

Now, of course, there may be things that we simply cannot do … that are not in our power… but the question raised by the parable is not about “ability” but about voluntary willingness.

The tenants can give back…they are just unwilling.

[__04__]     In other words…. Isn’t it also true that some subject areas, some tasks or, or aspects of life’s curriculum – or core curriculum ? – we are are called to do what is relatively easy and and sometimes to do what is difficult or frustrating.

In school / academia / the academic setting, we are often willing to do more in a subject in which we have, naturally …

  • APTITUDE, fondness, abiltity… something we are good at..

  • AFFECTION … that is, we like the teacher or boss

Don’t we all want to do things in which we excel …
  • Mathematicians want to solve problems in terms of area and volume and numbers

  • Quarterbacks want to throw touchdowns

  • Other examples…painters want to paint..sculptors want to sculpt… writers want to write.

And, in the parable, the tenant farmers were – we are told – proficient – adept  at th cultivation of grapes, the harvest, the pressing of the grapes and the bottling of the wine. This is what they are able to do..

What they are currently unwilling to do is to surrender share the percentage with the owner. Rather, they are launching a hostile takeover of the vineyard.
They also do not recognize that their well-being is connected to that of the owner and the whole community.

Doesn’t the commandment invite us to love God and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.

[__05__]      By resisting the owner of the vineyard, by not sharing, the tenants are showing that they are only willing to love themselves and not others…

[__06__]      In his relationship with his disciples, Jesus does not ask each of us for the same percentage.

To the rich young man/rich young ruler whom he meets on the road, Jesus says, give me 100%, sell all your possessions.

From Zacchaeus the tax collector, Jesus receives 50%. Zacchaeus says he will give half of his possessions to the poor.

Yet, even at the 10% “bracket”, Jesus critiques the scribes and Pharisees for being too demanding, too exact, too precise.

While this 10% is a good measure for many of us, this will not necessarily apply to all of us.

Most of all, what our Savior wants is our open door, our open heart, so that when he sends his servants to us … we would be willing to listen.

These servants could be our children telling us about God’s covenant, our agreement to work in the vineyard the would be asking for a percentage of our attention…. A friend asking for a percentage of our help… an elderly or infirm spouse or relative seeking a percentage of our wisdom at the doctor’s office or at home.

We also might be approached by the teacher / mentor / coach … to whom God wants us to give a greater percentage of our effort.

We maintain our vineyard by listening and welcoming these servants.  [__fin__]      

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