Today’s readings tell two stories designed to teach. In the Hebrew Scripture, the exiled Tobit introduces himself, his background and works. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the Tenants of the Vineyard.
Tobit illustrates, that through ordinary faithful lives- even in exile- the ancient traditions of fidelity to the law and compassion towards the neighbor are still part of everyday life for believers and are worth the risk to live out this spirituality daily, even in a hostile or foreign environment. Why? To trust in God and to mirror daily God’s justice and mercy was key to Tobit’s character. A question for our reflection: Is this spirituality key to our own character and life?
Today’s gospel story is a commentary on the hostility of the Jewish leaders toward, not only Jesus himself, but it is also a comment on the harsh treatment given to God’s earlier messengers.
Returning to Jerusalem, Jesus is walking in the Temple Area . The chief priests and scribes approach him, questioning his authority. In response, Jesus speaks to them and to us in today’s parable.
We are familiar with today’s story and the images: The vineyard represents Israel; the owner is God; the tenant farmers are Israel’s leaders; and the beloved son is Jesus. The owner leases his vineyard to tenant farmers and goes on a journey. When the owner sent messengers for the “rent”, the tenant farmers seize, beat and send him back empty-handed. Finally the owner, sends his son… and the farmers kill the son! As a result, the tenant farmers are severely punished and the vineyard given to others.
What might this parable say to each of us today? Who are the ‘messengers’ God sends us in our own life? How do we respond? Where does God send us as messengers of God’s love?