From the Word of the Day
He began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time, he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘they will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What [then] will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture passage: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’?”
They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away. (Mark 12: 1-12)
The polemic regarding Jesus’ works has become ever bitterer among the priests and scribes in Jerusalem. The parable of the murderous tenant farmers of today’s Gospel reaches its climax. Jesus speaks His teaching about the history of salvation planned by God and tied in an inscrutable way to His destiny. It also becomes the historic judgment for His adversaries who attempt to contradict God’s action. The parable takes on language typical of Old Testament Biblical tradition and in a special way, the Canticle of Isaiah (5: 1-7). The vineyard is God’s Kingdom; the servants are the prophets; the Owner is God; the tenant farmers are the leaders of Israel; the fruit is fidelity to the Covenant. This language is understood by the listeners who realize it was directed to them as Luke gives us to understand in the last line.
In the introduction, we find the Son who differs from the other servants. He is a beloved Son. He is sent last, thinking ‘they will respect my Son’. This icon highlights Jesus’ unique and historic role as the Beloved Son, the last one sent, the heir who is killed by those who sought to manage ‘their own vineyard”.
What will the owner now do? Not only will the murders be punished, but God’s plan will be accomplished by others; the vineyard will be given to others. With Jesus’ death, the racial privileges of Judaism will be overcome and salvation will be offered to everyone, even the pagans. This is valid for all times, even ours. No one has a monopoly on the Kingdom of God. The only true guarantee is fidelity, the gratuity of God’s gift, and the free adhesion of human beings.
The Voice of the Catechism of Ireneo of Lyons
Therefore, there is only one and the same God the Father who planted the vineyard, led the people out, sent the prophets, sent the Son, and handed the vineyard over to others who will give its fruit in due time.