Matthew 21:33-46 (NRSV)
Verse 33"Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. Verse 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. Verse 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Verse 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Verse 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' Verse 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance." Verse 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Verse 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" Verse 41They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time." Verse 42Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'? Verse 43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. Verse 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls." Verse 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. Verse 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
At the end of this series of parables, Matthew comments that the chief priests and the Pharisees realized that Jesus was speaking about them. What might this Parable of Vineyard be saying to us in North America who control a disproportionate amount of the world’s wealth, and therefore wield a lot of power over others. What fruits do we return God, who has placed us in such a position of control over the lives of others? The sweat shops of the world provide us with inexpensive clothing. High oil prices keep our economies booming. Meanwhile, refugees are flooding the world trying to escape poverty, brutality, and war. Does the parable of the vineyard turn our thoughts to how we function in the magnificent vineyard that God has created in our world? God grant us wisdom to use well the position we hold among our brothers and sisters worldwide.
Merciful God, speak to our hearts that we may see clearly where you are leading us as we think about the world around us and our place within it. Amen.