By Allison Gingras
St. Matthew’s Gospel, of the four Gospels, alone uses this particular verse in telling of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants:
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it” (Mt 21:43).
The Navarre Bible explains this verse should, “fill the faithful with hope and a sense of security”. Although all may seem lost, the Vineyard owner, God, remains in control of the vineyard. With these words, Jesus assures anyone aiming to bring glory to God, a place in the vineyard.
Jesus encourages the faithful to remain hopeful, no matter how rejected they feel in this world. Rejection does not indicate defeat, instead He encourages with the words:
“‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone…” (Mt 21:42).
Jesus is the cornerstone rejected, crucified and raised to become the foundation of the Church. Rejected like no other, He produced a bounty like no other. It is the grace of that vineyard He longs to share with the faithful.
The “wicked tenants” tended a vineyard carefully fashioned by the Land Owner. A vineyard created to profit not only the vine-growers but also the beneficiaries of the bounty. God has provided each of us with our own perfectly constructed vineyard. How can we offer back to God what He has given us? How can we be “the vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons” (Mt 21:41). Primarily, we accomplish this by sharing the Good News and loving others.
We can begin with our families. The only experience with Christ some of your family and friends may have is how they meet Him in you. We may experience painful rejection for our faith. That does not excuse us from the charge to be Christ in the world and to share the grace of what we believe. People may not wish to hear our words, but as the old hymn reminds us, “they will know we are Christians by our love.”
Another way to share the vineyard’s yield is through invitation. Consider hosting a weekly small group in your home or at your parish. Trust me, a vineyard filled with eager tenants longing to follow and please the Land Owner is always a great blessing. My entire reversion to the Catholic Church began with one such invitation. A woman at my Parish reached out and asked me to join her small group faith sharing.
I remember the night the group met for the first time. Most in attendance had never participated in a book club, never mind a “religious book club.” To overcome my nerves, I convinced myself this would be my only night. However, after she served the yummy snacks, I knew I’d be back for another week. Week after week, I learned a little more about the Scriptures and Jesus’ great love for me. Eventually, it was much more than the snacks which attracted me to the small group. It was the accountability, the fellowship, and the blossoming of my faith. I soon began to arrive with a journal and a Bible, complete with handy-dandy tabs to assist me in finding Scripture passages.
Ten years later, I now host a weekly small group. We’ve read countless inspiring Catholic books and Bible studies. We have shared countless yummy snacks, cups of coffee and yes, even glasses of wine. The small group meetings, like the promise in Matthew 21:43, help us to be hopeful and maintain a sense of security.
The truths of this parable remain: an allegory about a carefully constructed vineyard intended to produce bountiful fruit yet misused for selfish desires along with a rejection of the Land Owner’s authority. We may feel the wicked tenants have won, but instead, we find comfort in Jesus’ words from St. Matthew’s Gospel. In the end, the vineyard belongs to those who labor, even in the most imperfect ways, to accomplish God’s Will.
What joy I’ve discovered in my small group as we share common struggles of faith. Buoyed by our friends on those days we may feel we labor in vain, our efforts themselves please God. How it gives us a sense of security to know we are not the only one seeking to know God and His Will better and to share in the hope that we will be the vine-growers God will choose to share the vineyard with.
About the Author:
Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You where she blogs, shares and speaks about the Catholic faith in our everyday life and the many opportunities life presents to discover the grace of God! She shares these with great enthusiasm, passion and a sense of humor. Allison is a WINE Specialist overseeing and facilitating the online aspect of the Between the WINES Book Clubs for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.