|Sea of grass in Brighton NY|
"A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it,dug a wine press, and built a tower.Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey." Mark 12:1This is the beginning of a parable that appears in all three of the synoptic gospels. The story goes on to tell of the owner sending servants and finally his son to claim the results of the harvest. The sharecroppers abuse them all and kill some including the son. They labor under a mistaken idea that if they kill the heir, they will somehow inherit the vineyard. Eventually the owner kicks them out and brings in new sharecroppers to manage the vineyard. Mark's version as well as Matthew's and Luke's are directed at the chief priests, scribes and elders and the ways in which they have distorted the intentions of the owner, Yahweh, and have rejected the incarnated Word of Yahweh, Jesus. This is re-enforced by the allusions to Isaiah 5:17 in the opening lines and the quotation from Psalm 118 about the stone rejected by the builders becoming the cornerstone.
Sometimes, scripture speaks to me in a different way providing me with a meaning that is salient to my life quite apart from the original meaning or intent. That is what happened today as i reflected on this reading. It came to me with even greater clarity that all I have , own, control, enjoy and experience is never really mine. It is on loan from the Divine One who is the source of all life, present, past and future. No matter how strong a feeling of ownership I may have, nothing ever really belongs to me. This insight calls me to focus on being a good steward of the blessings and difficulties in my life.
In the end, I turn everything over to the Divine One from whom everything comes. I am called to use whatever I have been given to draw myself and others closer to the Divine One. I do this through works of mercy and justice that comes out of the conviction that all I have, especially when I already have enough for a fully human life, is to be used to provide that same kind of life to those who do not have enough. Catholic social justice teaching is built on this bedrock belief. It is why I am always and forever only a sharecropper who is called to accountability on how I have used the fields and livestock of the owner, the gracious Divine One and the Incarnated Word.