What does Jesus’ Parable of the wicked Tenants in the vineyard tell us?

1. Introductory prayer

God gives us everything to be fruitful – the earth, the vine, the press, the tower. But we have our ideas about what to do in the vineyard and how. Bless me, Father, that I will be the vineyard that will bear fruit.

Reading – Listening: The Gospel according to Matthew 21:33-43

The Parable of the wicked Tenants

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.

36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.

37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill himand take his inheritance.’

39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’[a]?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel – The Parable of the wicked Tenants 

Jesus told the great priests and elders of the people a good parable for tenants who refused to give the crop to the master of the vineyard.

He sent his servants twice, and they were beaten, and some killed.

Finally, he sent his own son and they also killed him. What will the master of the vineyard do then? „He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop”

This is how the Jewish leaders responded and judged themselves. It was they who were preparing to kill the heir, the Son of God. A parable is a symbol of the sad Israeli history.

God chose this nation, made a covenant with them, gave them the commandments, brought them to the Promised Land, and arranged everything necessary for their religious, social and cultural life.

But from the very beginning, the people were persistent, unfaithful and harden hearts.

People, and especially their leaders, attached themselves to their gifts, behaved in them, and even hid their sins with the help of the gifts. “All this has been given to us by God, for nothing can happen to us,” they said.

They took the gifts, but forgot about the donor.

The gifts are intended to bring the man closer to the donor, their God. Once this purpose has been achieved, the gifts have accomplished their mission.

Since the Israelites took gifts and the donor was rejected, God sent them prophets. They reprimanded them, invoked for conversion. Even the prophets were not accepted.

They were persecuted, others killed. Then God began to take away the gifts on which they so relied on. But all in vain. He finally sent his beloved Son. Another sign of the great God and his patience.

And no fruits again.

Now the vineyard will be given to other winemakers who will give their produce in their time.

What does Jesus’ story of the tenants tell us?

First of all, that we are also richly rewarded with the gifts. How much of God’s generosity and love were already received! What are all of this gifts for? In order to bear fruit, that we might love God with all our might and our neighbor as ourselves.

But like the Israelis, we also can easily relate to gifts and like to we own them.

There is no gratitude from us, the gifts do not direct us to the donor.

Thus, gifts become a trap, a kind of loop in which we catch ourselves. For example, the spouses try to own each other or the children, the priest is attached to a parish, work or people, a professor to books or his knowledge, a private owner for money, an artist on honor, etc.

Someone may have some perfect image about himself and cannot get rid of it, someone else is in love with his body and adores it; the third one always has his own right and does not allow contra opinion.

In all of this is our inferiority.

We are similar to winemakers who do not produce crops.

And what will the master of the vineyard do with us? He send the Prophets to us, His word. Then he also takes the things we are attached to. So he cleanses us and liberates us.

This is painful, but useful. Thus, God wants us poor, so that we can receive Him, the greatest gift.

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4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • God works in the vineyard, seeds, grafts, cuts – which can hurt, but it is necessary. I give to God, what hurts me, where I do not see the way forward, what I regret.
  • The path is shown where it is least expected. Where did the Lord surprise me lately, and the fruit is now wonderful in my eyes? I thank Him for these gifts.
  • Our heart seeks dialogue with God to feed with God’s juice. When we break it, like wine makers, we seek this juice with man – so the vineyard becomes open, without borders, and everyone can obstruct it in its own way. In which relationship in my life, is a lively craving for dignity?

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about of this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God)

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence to be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me.
Perhaps from this silence I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship, or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

7. Action

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (Write down your insights for concrete action)

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8. Prayer at the end

Jesus, you come to the vineyard to cultivate it, breathe life into it, support it, do give the fruits. Let me give you to cultivate my vineyard

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel at the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. By prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si