9th Week in Ord. Time, Monday – 1st June 2020 — Gospel: Mk 12,1-12
Respond faithfully not irrationally
In the parable of the wicked tenants, the fault of the tenants is not simply a failure to produce grapes, but a treacherous series of responses to the landowner’s representatives. At least five attempts are made to contact the tenants and receive what was due for the landowner. One of the attempts speaks of “many” emissaries (12,5). The series culminates in sending his “beloved son”. This obviously refers to Jesus. This same phrase unmistakably evokes the heavenly voice at baptism (Mk 1,11; Mt 3,17) and transfiguration (Mk 9,7; Mt 17,5). This same truth is seen in Jn 3,16 and Heb 1,1-2. God attempted to communicate by sending several representatives, even His own son. This represents the longsuffering of God and his desire to establish a covenant relationship. But there is a clear increase in the ill treatment done to them (beating, beating on the head, killing). The landowner’s hope is ardent and idealistic, but ultimately futile. The tenants at this point are not just evil but irrational. Jesus did not tell the parable to suggest that God was going to take the kingdom away from “Jews” and give it to “Christians.” The critical issue in the parable is not the identity of the “others” but the failure of the tenants to respond faithfully, in accordance with their tenant obligation or in accordance with the covenant. How do they hope to inherit the vineyard after acting so disloyally? The outcome is inevitable: judgment, retribution, and replacement.