Saturday of Trinity 20 – Matthew 21:33-46

| November 7, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Worker in VineyardMatthew 21:33-46

I’ve struggled today with what to write about the parable of the vinedressers, because Jesus’ point is about the rejection of the Stone which the builders rejected – and as Christians we have not rejected the chief cornerstone.

And yet as I gaze more deeply into this parable I see a few things that remind me of my life here on earth.  In the first place, I find that I am in a similar situation to that of the vinedressers, which is Israel.  The earth is the Lord’s garden, and He has placed me in it to tend it, wherever He has planted me.  It is all His, but He allows me to live here and allows me to partake of the kindly fruits of the earth.

Furthermore, my Lord has gone off into a far country.  Jesus, my Lord, has ascended to Heaven and has left His Church to be the vinedressers of His vineyard.  Like the vinedressers in this parable, and like the nation of Israel at the time of Christ, it might occur to me that while the cat’s away the mice should play.  Since Jesus is not here physically but is invisible to me, as are the Father and the Spirit, it would be easy for me to get off track and begin to act as if God didn’t exist and I were not going to meet up with Him again at some point in time.

Maybe you or someone you know has experienced this kind of newfound freedom while in college.  While once you were under the watchful eye of your parents, now the world is yours to do with what you will.  You know what’s right and what’s wrong, but now there are more temptations than ever before and no one to watch over you but yourself.

In our lives as vinedressers of the Lord’s vineyard, even though the Lord Himself is absent, He sends messengers into our lives.  Maybe He sends an event into your life, a “close call” or a “wake up call” that is intended to gently remind you to get back to the work the Lord has given you to do.  Maybe He puts someone into your life to say something to you that triggers a return to God.  And maybe you ignore the first messenger He sends, and the second one, and He sends more impressive and serious messengers until you return to Him.

Have you ever had the experience in which you slowly drift back into the belief that you’ve got things covered without the help of God?  And then something goes wrong, or something happens that seems to be out of your control or beyond your ability to handle.  But somehow, through hard work and a little luck things turn out O.K. and you’re now released to go back to trusting in yourself.  But then something else happens that’s out of your control.  How do you respond?

As with the repentance that we talked about yesterday, we all have episodes where we act as if God is not Lord and we aren’t accountable to Him.  But the question is, as it was yesterday, will we return to Him, and will we do it sooner rather than later?

To continue acting as if this world and my life isn’t all God’s is risky.  I’d hate to die on a day when I was ignoring God’s messengers and was acting as I owned my life and everything in it.  It’s risky to spend even a day without God because days have a habit of becoming weeks, and weeks have a habit of becoming months, and months . . . .  There’s a danger that, as with a nose dive, I might not ever pull out in time.  Establishing the habit of ignoring God’s voice in my life and the habit of believing my life is my own makes it that much more likely that this is a habit that may form me for life.

But I prefer to write a different parable for myself today.

“There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower.  And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.  Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.  But one of the vinedressers ignored the servants and refused to hear what they had to say and selfishly began to treat the fruit as entirely his own.  Again he sent other servants, more than the first, but this time the vinedresser who had ignored the first group of servants listened to the servants and gladly gave the landowner the fruit that He had asked for.  When he received the fruit, the landowner permanently renewed his lease to the vinedresser and allowed him to continue to work for him and partake richly of the amazing fruits of his vineyard all the days of his life.”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, whose bread it was to do the will of the Father and who said, “Apart from me you can do nothing,” bless me as I begin the work you have given me.  Help me to work with diligence and cheerfulness and direct me by Your wisdom and power that whatever I do may be a blessing to myself and others and a means of giving glory to Your name.  Amen. 

Points for Meditation:

  1. Have you been like the wicked vinedressers in any way? Have you treated God’s kingdom as if it were your own?
  2. What kinds of messengers does God seem to send into your life to bring you back to Him?
  3. Meditate on how wonderful it is to be a vinedresser in God’s vineyard, and give thanks!

Resolution:  I resolve to practice seeing my life today, and all of its details, as something that belongs to God. 

© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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