Peace and grace to all!
This weekend’s readings help us to grasp a biblical view of God. I say “biblical view” because the biblical view is sometimes a contrast to our own view of God which is what is depicted in the parable told by Jesus. The vineyard stands for the people of Israel. The vineyard owner stands for God. The tenants stand for the chief priests and Pharisees that God set in place to guide his people. The servants in the first group that were sent to receive a share of the grapes were the early prophets; the second group was the later prophets. The owner’s son who was killed is Jesus. The new tenants are the Apostles of Jesus and they replace the chief priests and Pharisees as the new leaders of God’s people. From the story Jesus tells, we understand that God is patient and understanding and that God is a just and fair judge. We are encouraged to ask ourselves a question: is the new model immune from the same type of faults depicted in the story by the first tenants? We all know the answer to that is– NO. As God’s people, we will always struggle with our differences of opinion and different ideas about God and the Church. Even Jesus’ closest companions didn’t always understand him! Even so, as disciples of Jesus we know we are called beyond our own personal views to embrace something much greater. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul teaches us the way we can experience God’s kingdom of unity and peace. It must be well understood that Paul is a former Pharisee—completely rule oriented and a hard judge of right/wrong rules of religious practice. It is striking how much his understanding changed after he encountered Jesus. He gradually began to understand God’s plan for his people in a new and personal way. St. Paul’s conversion serves as an example of how to be a true disciple of Jesus and turn away from pettiness, politics and distractions that lead us away from the treasure of freedom, peace and joy that right faith provides. Jesus teaches us that God is first of all merciful, patient, kind, gentle and understanding then a fair and just judge second. We are asked to understand then imitate this example.
God bless you all! +++ Fr Peter