On the Gospel of Matthew 21:33-43
27th Sunday of the Year
In this Sunday’s Gospel we read the parable of the wicked tenants. There are echoes in this Gospel of the words of Isaiah in Is 5:1-7. Jesus in this Gospel tells us of the patience of God who is the owner of the vineyard by him sending messenger after messenger in search of the fruit. These messengers represent the prophets of the Old Testament. The Father then has to send his “beloved son” and the tenants murder him: this being a clear indication of the death and resurrection of Our Lord.
The vineyard is a symbol of the Church and therefore of each of us. We read in John 15 how Christ is the vine and we are the branches. So it is through the Church that we remain in Christ without whom we can do nothing.
Saint Ambrose in one of his commentaries describes beautifully the opening line of the Gospel. The hedge he says represents divine protection for the vineyard against spiritual predators, the wine press is for extracting the vintage of the divine grape and the watchtower signifies that God has invested a great deal of care in the cultivation of his vineyard. “When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes” (Is 5:4). Sin is the sour and bitter fruit of our lives. However, we cannot free ourselves from sin by our own efforts, we are in complete need of Christ, our Master and Saviour. Therefore, our sin is directly related to the death of the beloved son, Jesus: “and they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.”
So what are we to do in order to produce good fruit for the Lord? We must cry out to him, and ask for a strong aversion to sin. In order to fall more deeply in love with Christ we must reject what displeases him to allow him to fill us with himself.
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
– Matthew 21:33-43