MESSAGE FROM MONS JOHN – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time / A – 8th October, 2017
It is always enjoyable to chat with a Semitic person or a descendant of a Semitic family. People from Palestine or Israel are fascinating to listen to because invariably they make a point by telling a story. Clearly this is how Jesus spoke because a story (ie parable) enables the listener to personalise the message.
Today’s parable is one that is very paradoxical. There are a number of significant characters in the story. There is the land owner. He has significant assets which he has acquired and developed and “fenced in” to protect them. Then there are the tenants to whom he has entrusted his assets. Thirdly there are his servants who he dispatched to collect rent from the tenants. Finally there is his son and heir who he sent in the wake of the servant’s unfortunate plight. The son is also killed following his failure to properly negotiate with the tenants.
Let us presume that Jesus was talking about religion. Our religion is an asset to us which we have acquired and developed and, maybe, “fenced in”. Yet, at the same time, we are like the servants who go out into the contemporary world in an effort to let people know that our religion is about “giving thanks’ to God for the great asset that we are asked to maintain. Yet, at the same time, we are heirs to the kingdom of God – Everything God has, we have also. Finally, we are also like the tenants who believe that we owe very little to God because we are actually “in control” of everything God has entrusted to us.
The paradox worth pondering on today is this: Have we “fenced in” our religion and simple kept it as our exclusive property. Or are we out there in the world trying to defend our religion. Or, with awareness that we are heirs to God’s kingdom, do we adequately negotiate with those who reject what we have been given. Or, finally maybe we are people who just want to maintain control over our religion, like the tenants, and make it our own personal property. Or are we people who share our faith with everyone?
It’s a wonderful paradox and it’s worth thinking about.