Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’
This is a good time to read the parable of the vineyard. It is autumn and we are expected to show some harvest. We have been entrusted with much. If the owner were to return suddenly and demand an account from us of our stewardship, how might we rise to that demand for accountability. Would he find integrity in our lives as he demands in the first reading? Would he find us at peace with one another, with God and with ourselves or might he find that the ways of anger and hate and bloodshed prevail? We have been put in charge, put in charge of something very precious. We stand in the place of God. God has charged us with stewardship of his kingdom, entrusted us with the care of his people and of creation, the environment. We are to build up the kingdom, to promote the ways of justice and peace and of mutual respect and dignity. We are to pray for the coming of that kingdom as well. We pray, ‘Thy kingdom come’ as we try to build it up and to make it a reality among us. The vineyard of the Old Testament represents the responsibility and the blessings and the privileges given to us and the demand that we show some return on all that we have been entrusted with. One day we will be called to account for how we looked after the care which was entrusted to us. We cannot hope to be part of the kingdom of eternal life surely if we have not prayed for it and taken an active part in its being built up. Who would hand over the house he had built and paid for to strangers who had made no contribution? God has never been weary with us. Time and time again, God has watched us build up our own little kingdoms. God has seen us abdicate our responsibilities and fail in our duties to care for the uncared for, and to gather in the little ones. God has watched us disregard his promises and his messengers. He has seen the disrespect some have for his name and for his beloved son, Jesus. The harvest time is coming and we are challenged to show the results of our stewardship. Otherwise he will strip us of our responsibility and of our reward. Care of the kingdom will be given to those who will produce results.