13th Sunday after Pentecost, Aug. 14, 2016. Matthew 21: 33-42

Jesus concludes the allegory in today’s Gospel reading by saying, “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.”

By our own rebellious lives, wanting to take the vineyard for ourselves, we can reject God’s will for us.  We can reject Jesus, the cornerstone of our lives.

And when we tear away that cornerstone the walls of our lives begin to crumble around us.Think about the world around us, even within the vineyard of the church.  Because the world, and even Christians, have rejected the cornerstone, evil abounds around us.

The violence and insecurity; the uncertainty and despair that surround us are the bad fruit we harvest when we are faithless tenants of the Lord’s vineyard.

Think about the majority of people. They accept violence as the normal state of things. Although that is changing in the light of recent terrorist violence.
Divorce is the only solution to marital difficulties, rather than the hard work of seeking counseling and trying to make the marriage work.
Abortion is the way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy rather than one of the pro-life options available.
Think of the Supreme Court decision to include same-sex unions under the heading of marriage and treat them the same way as normal marriage.

So many act in a way that says the right thing to do is what I think makes me happy right now.  There is no objective right or wrong. Yes, indeed, the walls are tumbling down!

The tenant farmers thought they could kill the owner’s son and get the vineyard for themselves.

In those days, the legal situation was such that the land of a proselyte – a convert to Judaism – dying intestate went to the first claimant, and here the tenants had that first opportunity to claim the vineyard.

It seems that people today think that if only they reject the Lord and his teachings, calling them outdated and meaningless, they can do what they want without guilt or repercussions.  The vineyard, so to speak, will be theirs.

So many churches think God’s teachings are a matter of democracy. They take a vote on what they should believe. Their faith becomes purely subjective conditioned by the hot button issues of the times, by muddy and illogical reasoning, and not the faith of the apostles as received from Jesus Christ himself.

The flaw in this reasoning is that God’s will for humanity is not arbitrary or repressive.  It is based on who we are as human beings and how the universe is ordered.  If we all live in harmony with the Creator’s plan, there will be harmony in the world.  If anyone of us do not, that person brings chaos into the surrounding environment. Why is it that we think we can live our lives in just any old way that pleases us?

So what do we faithful Christians do?
We continue to till the soil of that vineyard.  We nurture the hedge that will keep the secular values out of our lives. We use the Church’s teachings as our gardening manual.  We prune out all vices and sins from our vines. We guard against the birds and insects of secularism that will try to eat the grapes.  We hold strongly to the faith the church has handed on to us.

As St. Paul tells us in today’s Epistle reading, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, and act with courage. In a word, be strong.


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