THE DANGER OF CHEATING GOD
The parable of the «killer tenants» is so harsh that we Christians find it difficult to think that this prophetic warning, directed by Jesus to the religious leaders of his time, has something to do with us.
The story talks about some workers entrusted by the master to work his vineyard. When the time of the harvest comes, something surprising and unexpected happens. The workers refuse to hand over the harvest. The master won’t gather the long awaited fruits.
Their audacity is incredible. One after another they go about killing the servants that the master sends them to gather the fruits. Even worse. When he sends them his own son, they throw him «out of the vineyard» and kill him in order to be left the only owners of everything.
What can the master of the vineyard do with those workers? The religious leaders, who nervously listen to the parable, come up with a terrible conclusion: he will have them killed and will give the vineyard over to other workers «who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time». They are condemning themselves. Jesus says so right to their face: «That’s why I say to you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit».
In «God’s vineyard» there’s no room for those who don’t deliver fruits. In the project of God’s reign that Jesus announces and promotes, unworthy workers who don’t recognize the lordship of God’s Son can’t keep their place, because they feel themselves owners, lords, in charge of God’s people. They must be replaced by «a people that produces fruits».
Sometimes we think that this parable that is so threatening, counts for the Old Testament, but not for us who are the people of the New Covenant and who now are guaranteed that Christ is always with us.
It’s wrong. The parable is speaking also about us. God doesn’t have to bless a sterile Christianity from which he receives no awaited fruits. God doesn’t have to identify Self with our inconsistencies, deviations, and faithlessness. Even now God wants unworthy workers of God’s vineyard to be replaced by a people that produces worthy fruits of God’s reign.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf