St. Matthew’s Gospel includes these poignant words from the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, “Therefore 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” (Matthew 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, His very life teaches the opposite: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes” (Matthew 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 an opportunity to play a significant role in tending the vineyard. How can we offer the fruit of this gift back to God is entirely up to us? How can we be “the vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons” (Matthew 21:41)?
Sharing the Good News
We accomplish this by sharing the Good News and loving others. We may experience painful rejection or opposition to the sharing of our faith; however, that does not excuse us from still doing so. People may not wish to hear our words, yet there are many ways we can share the fruit of our faith with others. Beginning by living the simple truth of the words, “they will know we are Christians by our love.”
Share the bounty of the vineyard’s yield through invitation. Consider hosting a weekly small book club group in your home, at your Parish, or virtually. My entire reversion to the Catholic Church began with one such invitation. A woman I barely knew, felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge to ask me to join her group, she purchased the book for me. Her kind gesture opened the door to a life with Christ; I never even imagined could be possible.
I remember the night the group met for the first time. I’d never participated in a “religious” book club. I convinced myself this would be my only night to overcome my nerves, out of sheer gratitude I’d attend this once and but I wasn’t coming back. However, after she served yummy snacks, I decided to give it one more 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 meetings. It was the excitement of knowing Jesus, the accountability, fellowship, and my blossoming faith. I began to arrive early with the book, a journal, and my own (fully tabbed) Bible.
Wisdom of WINE Groups
Over ten years later, now I am the host, having begun my own group, affectionately named, Wicked Awesome WINE. We’ve read countless inspiring Catholic books, shared numerous yummy snacks, endless cups of coffee, and yes, even a few glasses of wine. This beautiful group, like the promise in Matthew 21:43, helps each of us to be hopeful and maintain a sense of security.
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; still teaches truth to us today. Instead of feeling defeated by the wicked tenants, we find comfort in Jesus’ words from St. Matthew’s Gospel. In the end, the vineyard belongs to those who labor, even in imperfect ways, to accomplish God’s Will.
What joy we’ve uncovered together, even virtually, as we walk together in our triumphs and struggles of faith. Buoyed by our friends on those days, we feel our labors are in vain; reminded our efforts themselves please God. How our hearts overfill with joy, knowing we are not the only one seeking to know God and His Will better. Finally, rest assured in the hope to be counted among the vine-growers God chooses to share His Vineyard.