Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time| Year A
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized the servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw his son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’
In some countries when people seek what is rightfully theirs, they suffer the same fate as the servants and the son in this parable. There are places where people who seek justice or the basics of life are imprisoned, beatened or even killed by those who monopolize resources.
One of the basic principles of Catholic social teaching is the “Universal Destination of Goods”. In its simplest form this principle says that the earth and all its resources are intended for everyone, and we have a responsibility to ensure that some do not go without while others have more than they need.
People can be generous in giving to charities to assist the poor overseas but have no hesitation in stigmatizing beneficiaries in New Zealand as bludgers. This verbal beating up of those who are rightfully entitled to resources when they fall into difficult circumstances is similar to the punishment inflicted on the servants and the son by those who controlled the vineyard.
Pushing away children who are seeking love, attention and affection - rightfully theirs from their parents – is another form of denying another their due. The tenants in the parable did not want their lives interrupted by the landlord. Sometimes children find it hard to break through into their parents’ lives to get what is their due.
What do I owe to whom, because it is rightfully theirs? And am I delivering what is rightfully theirs to others in my life?