God of surprises and second chances…
If you asked somebody to do something and they didn’t do it, you might give them a second chance. If they failed to do it the second, your patience might stretched bit. You just might ask them a third time. But if they failed the third time, you would definitely give up on them. Thankfully, our ways not God’s ways. God clearly has more patience with us than we have with ourselves and each other.
The first reading and the gospel this Sunday both use the image of the vineyard to speak to us about the patience and generosity of God.
Jesus tells chief priest and the elders a parable. The owner of the vineyard sends workers into his vineyard to collect the harvest. However these poor servants do not receive a positive welcome. They are attacked and beaten. The owner then sends more workers into the vineyard. Sadly these workers are treated in much the same way. Lastly, the owner decides to send his son in the hope and belief that they we will treat him with respect. Alas, his hope is ill placed; they kill his son. It comes as no surprise to us, that the owner of the vineyard represents God and his son is Jesus Christ.
Also very clear in the parable, is that those who killed the servants and the owners son are Scribes, Pharisees and the elders. Imagine their shock and anger when they heard this. They would have loved nothing better than to lay their hands on Jesus there and then and do away with him. In doing so they would underline the truth of the parable; and in fact they will not have long to wait before they actually will do away with Jesus permanently.
But this, like all the parables, is held up to us today so that we can see ourselves in it and learn from it. Through the life, mission, death and resurrection, God offers the chance to reap an endlessly abundant harvest of love, mercy and forgiveness. They are offered to us freely out of love. Like those in the gospel, we have to choose freely whether to accept or decline God’s generous offer. We are the tenants today and God has certain expectations of us. God looks to us to produce the fruits of love, mercy, compassion and the values of the Kingdom of God. The burning question from this parable to us today is simple but challenging; what sort of fruits and harvest are we producing today though our ordinary daily lives as followers of Jesus?