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.
The chief priests and Pharisees used the power of the law of God to hammer others into submission. We see attempts in our political systems to exert power over others, especially those who are marginalized among us. “Might equals right” seems to resonate in one way or the other worldwide. Jesus came to toss a wrench in the gears of the mechanisms of power over others by putting his own life on the line for the sake of the other. In our reading today, Jesus of himself as the stone that the builders rejected becoming the cornerstone of a temple built of living stones. “The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” May God use us as living stones in that temple built on the cornerstone of Jesus and his self-giving love which alone will liberate us from the power structures which perpetuate the reign of power over others that infects so much of our world today.
All-powerful God, help us to see that your infinite power is directed toward lifting up the lowly and bringing all into your realm of glory. Amen.