This week’s Parable (Matt:21: 33-46) targets those who like to have power over others. Those who do, open themselves to many temptations. One can quickly switch from being a guardian to becoming an owner, from being a humble servant to being a person who likes to make their authority hurt. Removed from the world of ordinary people, they believe they are above criticism. They silence anyone who calls them to account for their behaviour. They reject anyone who reminds them that only God has authority and laugh at the idea that they will be judged for their cruelty.
Our Parable tells us that God has already done all the hard work. Could not have done more as far as Isaiah (5,4) was concerned. The problem is with the tenants. Instead of producing the new wine, they waste their energy on violence. A violence which escalates each time they think they have got away with it. Believing they can still be persuaded; God sends His Beloved Son.
But instead of seizing this as an opportunity for repentance, their true nature is unwittingly revealed. They want it all for themselves. In reality, they have no love for God in them. They do not want communion but exclusion, and the only way to get that is to obliterate the Beloved Son of God. They avoid with a passion the very thing that could save them! It was a high-risk strategy that cost them everything. It always does in these cases.
Wanting it all is not a sensible desire. Neither is the desire to have power over others or seek to injure them. But we know it goes on all the time, globally, nationally, locally, in our families and even in our parish community. It is a greedy sin which is born out of imagining that we own God and can do what we like with His gifts to us. Sadly, and usually too late, people like this find that God has moved elsewhere. When people find they are having problems with prayer, it’s usually because there is some dark sin in their hearts, something that needs to lean more towards compassion in their lives.
Here is another mini Parable on this theme:
The water of life, wishing to make itself known on the face of the earth bubbled up in an artesian well and flowed without effort or limit. People and animals came to drink of this refreshing water, and were nourished by it, since it was so clean and pure and invigorating. But some humans were not content to leave things in this idyllic state. Gradually they began to build fences around the well, charge admission, claim ownership of the land around it, make elaborate laws as to who could come to the well and who couldn’t, and put locks on the gates. Soon the well was the property of a powerful elite.
The water became angry and offended. It stopped flowing and began to bubble up in another place. The people who owned the property around the first well were so engrossed in their power systems and ownership that they didn’t notice that the water had vanished. So, they continued selling the non-existent water and few people noticed that the power was gone. But some searched with great courage and longing and found the new artesian well. Soon that well was under the control of the elite and the same fate overtook it. The spring took itself to another place and will always do so till the end of time.
We are co-workers in Gods vineyard. When we start wanting it all, we inherit nothing.