In the 1990s there was a famous TV ad for an orange soft drink. It showed a man drinking the soft drink and then in a slow motion replay a small man covered in orange paint is seen running up to the man drinking, unbeknownst to him. After the man has taken a drink, the orange man suddenly appears in front of the man drinking and slaps him on the face with both of his hands. Needless to say the man drinking is left with a bewildered look on his face which clearly says ‘I didn’t expect that!’. In a strange ‘marketing strategy’ way this sudden shock to the system, brought on by the slap to the face, was supposed to represent the unexpected great taste sensation that the soft drink gave.
I couldn’t help but think of this ad when reading today’s Gospel. When Jesus taught through the use of parables He had a unique ability to leave many of his hearers saying to themselves ‘I didn’t expect that!’. As Jesus begins the parable in todays Gospel it seems like a simple story but then Jesus says something which must have registered like a slap in the face for the chief priests and elders He was speaking to. Jesus tells them that ‘the kingdom of God will be taken’ from them. But these were God’s chosen people, a holy nation set apart. How could this be? This would be the result of their rejection of Jesus whom they would have killed just like they had done with the some of the earlier prophets that God had sent to call his chosen people back to him. With teachings like this, it was no wonder that Jesus faced such opposition from the Jewish authorities and ended up being treated so harshly by them, to the point where He received many real slaps to his sacred face.
The parable in today’s Gospel was like a slap in the face for me too when I read it, reawakening me to the reality of God’s great patience with and love for each of us. It highlights the great lengths He has gone to to save us from sin and death. Each of us has the freedom to accept or reject Jesus. Realising the ultimate sacrifice that He has made out of love for us should lead us to love him with all our heart. If we choose to reject Jesus, who is the source of all love and life, we will, as the Gospel tells us, come to ‘a wretched end’.
Today is Rosary Sunday and in the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary we mediate on the terrible reality of what happened to Jesus, ‘the keystone’, when He was ‘rejected by the builders’. During this month of October, which is dedicated to the promotion of the Rosary, let us make a real effort to pray the rosary each day as an offering of love to Jesus who has loved us to the end. A rosary intention for the month could be to pray for the conversion of the people we may know who have rejected Jesus in their lives. May Our Lady help us to love her son as she does.
O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Lady, Queen of the Rosary, pray for us.
Gospel Reflection: Mt 21:33-43
‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them thinking, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this is the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it? ‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’