March 6, 2015
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
In Jesus’ parable today, it’s pretty obvious that the landowner that he’s referring to – is God. The tenants in the story are the Israelites and the servants are the Prophets. Jesus talks about how the Israelites would not listen to God’s warnings that were spoken through the prophets, but instead, just had them killed. And when God, the Landowner, finally sent His Son – who, of course, is Jesus; we hear Jesus prophesying about what will happen in the very near future – with His own crucifixion and death.
But it’s interesting to see how the Pharisees didn’t immediately catch the tie. And then they proceeded to condemn themselves, when they recognized the injustice of it all.
After Jesus made the accusation of the parable clear to everyone, the Pharisees went off in a huff, planning to kill Jesus, and thus, fulfilling the parable’s prophesy, just as Jesus had said.
You see, the Pharisees were well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. They knew well the story of Joseph and his brothers. And how the brothers’ jealousy led to the destruction of their own sibling, Joseph, or so they thought. And even though the brothers did not know – that the consequences of their actions would actually fulfill a dream that Joseph prophesyed – about their bowing down to him; nor did they know that Joseph would actually end up being their savior, the Pharisees did know it all by heart. And they also knew the quote about the rejected stone becoming the cornerstone. And yet they still chose to ignore it, based on their own jealousy and greed, thus fulfilling not only the Old Testament prophesies and prefiguring of the Joseph story, but also fulfilling the prophesy of Jesus’ parable of the landowner and the tenants.
It’s funny how sometimes, even we, can become blind to our own actions. When we become too over-focused with our own goals, and ignore the subtle consequences – that can actually be pretty devastating to others, or ourselves, we become the Pharisees
of our own time. And when signs of warning start popping up in our lives, just as they did BY the Prophets to the Israelites, and just as they did BY Jesus to the Jewish Temple leaders, we’ll often find all kinds of excuses to “kill the messenger,” rather than actually listening to the message.
And that is exactly why we have Lent.
Lent is a time to step a little bit out of ourselves, to listen a little more attentively to the signs all around us, and to see what we can do to answer God’s call to Holiness a little better. Maybe it’s as simple as taking care of ourselves – a little more. Or maybe it’s finding a need of someone else – that we can help fill. But whatever it is, we need to always remember that the Holy Spirit is right there beside us, ready and willing to guide, to encourage, and to help us. And that’s a pretty comforting thought!
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