Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In many and various ways God spoke to us through the prophets but in these last days he speaks to us by his Son, said the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. What we heard today is an allegory, not a parable. It is a story that has a deeper meaning that what appears on the surface, and hopefully makes clear what God has done for us in thousands of years of salvation history, and how we responded.
A key part of this story about these wicked servants is that the owner goes away. He went to another country! And it appears that he wants to see how his servants act when he is gone. There is a priest in the Holy Land where many young men go to discern a vocation or to stop doing drugs or other foolish things. He has an office above where kids hang out and there they speak very freely about things. This helps him to know what is really in their hearts and not just what they say in front of him to look good.
These tenants conform only externally, out of fear or opportunism, and have no thought of the eventual return and judgment of the owner. They live for the moment, and greed consumes them. God does the same with us. He leaves us be and gives us many years in the vineyard to give fruit. He will ask us one day what did we do for all those years?
It is impressive to see how often the owner sends people in the hope that they will change their hearts. Jesus, in telling this allegory, is aiming it at the religious leaders and is trying to purge them of their hatred for him. Like the owner in the story Jesus is primarily concerned with their souls, much more than his own safety. In the end, there is no change of heart and the vineyard, which is the Church, will be taken away from the Jews and given to the gentiles.
This allegory was aimed at the religious leaders, but most of them did not repent. But what is the meaning for ordinary people like us? Most of us would never dream of killing the Son of God. However, today there are more subtle ways of ‘killing Christ’ by making him irrelevant. Many people never speak of Him even to their children or grandchildren. Church is too dangerous to go in person because of Covid-19, but they might not hesitate to go to Shop-rite or to work.
This allegory of the wicked servants seems to be saying either I follow Christ closely or little by little he becomes a nuisance to me. He becomes a pain that I need to silence. There is a constant tendency to become worldly today in ways that appear nice and even Christian. The first step to halt this tendency is to see that it is true for me and then decide what I want to do about it. It is interesting to notice that some people are now going to church every day. They realize something serious is happening and they don’t want to be kept on the sidelines. Our life is on loan from God and one day we need to give an account of what we did with it. He always gives us another chance.