by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Jesus is in the temple precinct, surrounded by a group of senior religious leaders. He has never had them so close. So, with incredible audacity, He delivers a parable aimed directly at them. Without a doubt, it's the toughest one to come out of His mouth.
When Jesus begins to tell them about a man who planted a vineyard and cared for it with solicitude and special affection, He creates a climate of expectation. The "vineyard" is the people of Israel. Everyone knows the song of the prophet Isaiah that speaks of God's love for His people with that beautiful image. They are the ones responsible for the "vineyard" so dear to God.
What nobody expects is the serious accusation that Jesus is going to throw out: God is disappointed. Centuries have passed and He hasn't been able to gather the fruits of justice, solidarity and peace He had expected from this beloved people.
Again and again He has sent His servants, the prophets, but those responsible for the vineyard have abused them mercilessly, even killing them. What more can God do for His vineyard? According to the story, the lord of the vineyard sends his own son, thinking: "They will respect my son." But the tenants kill him to keep his inheritance.
The parable is clear. The temple leaders are forced to acknowledge that the lord has to trust his vineyard to other tenants who are more loyal. Jesus applies the parable quickly to them: "I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit."
Overwhelmed by a crisis that can no longer be resolved through minor reforms, distracted by discussions that blind us to what is essential, without the courage to listen to God's call to a radical conversion to the Gospel, the parable forces us to ask serious questions.
Are we this new people that Jesus wants, dedicated to producing the fruit of the Kingdom, or are we disappointing God? Are we working for a more humane world? How are we responding from God's plan to the victims of the economic crisis and those who are dying of hunger and malnutrition in Africa?
Do we respect the Son God has sent us or do we throw Him "out of the vineyard" in many ways? Have we accepted the task that Jesus has entrusted to us to humanize life or are we distracted by other more secondary religious interests?
What are we doing with the men and women God sends us today too to remind us of His love and justice? Are there no longer prophets of God or witnesses to Jesus among us? Do we no longer recognize them?