- Mk 12:1-12
- Parable of the Tenants
I read this story about a fifth grade teacher in a Christian school in the U.S.A. asked her class to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them in some way to communicate ideas about God. Here are some of the results:
“God is like BAYER ASPIRIN, He works miracles; God is like a FORD, He’s got a better idea; God is like COKE, He’s the real thing; God is like HALLMARK CARDS, He cares enough to send His very best; God is like GENERAL ELECTRIC, He brings good things to life; God is like SEARS, He has everything; God is like ALKA-SELTZER, Try him you’ll like Him; God is like SCOTCH TAPE, You can’t see him, but you know He’s there; God is like DELTA, He’s ready when you are; God is like ALLSTATE, You’re in good hands with Him; God is like VO-5 Hair Spray, He holds through all kinds of weather; God is like DIAL SOAP, Aren’t you glad you have Him. Don’t you wish everybody did; God is like TIDE, He gets the stains out that others leave behind.”
Strictly speaking, today’s gospel reading is more of an allegory than a parable because it has multiple points of application rather than just one. The vine is a symbol of the people of Israel (Psalm 79: 9, 10-“You brought a vine out of Egypt…”). Jesus once identified Himself as the true vine (John 15:1ff) because He is God’s beloved. But in this parable He is identified not as the vine but as the son and heir to the vineyard. Each of the servants, who had been sent, of course, is one of the prophets of old who had been sent to them to call them to holiness and to be able to obtain for God what was God’s; but they beat them and killed them.
The parable is so full of multiple points of truths and so one thing is it tells us certain things about God: First, it tells us about God’s generosity. The owner of the vineyard goes away after he prepares everything in his vineyard for the cultivators to make their works easy and profitable, like: wall to protect the vineyard, a tower, a winepress, a vat and others. He leaves the cultivators to run the vineyard themselves. In the same way God is generous. Like for example, our salvation is not owed to us but comes through the grace of God, the generosity of God. Therefore we ought to be thankful to Him for all that is given to us.
Second, it tells us about God’s trust and patience in dealing with us. Today’s gospel the master gives the cultivators the chance to pay the debt they owe. He treats them with patience they don’t deserve. God trusts us in letting runs our lives and to do so many things for ourselves as we choose. This is also complemented with His patience. Not just once or twice but many times. It is because God does not give up on us after one try. He often sends a number of messengers into our lives to draw us closer to Him. And what do we do with our freedom God has given us?
Third, it tells about God’s justice. The owner comes and removes the tenants and gives his vineyard over to other tenants, who will give him his share of grapes in due season. This parable tells us about the triumph of God’s justice at the end. God is so patient with our disobedience and rebellion but in the end His justice will prevail if we do not heed his call, if we do not use the means he sends us, our evil and unrepentant actions will bring their own terrible fruits.
Today is another invitation God sends us to strive to do His will.