The stone rejected by the builders has become the keystone

 The prophets often spoke of Israel as God’s vineyard, as we hear in today’s First Reading. The image expressed the belief that the land and people of Israel were a treasured possession and that God cared for his chosen people with great love. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable that turns the image of the vineyard against the chief priests and elders. As the religious leaders of the people, they have been trusted by God to take care of his people. But they have abused their trust. The prophets, God’s servants, were martyred and so was John the Baptist. Now Jesus foresees that he will be killed, too. The accusation is unmistakable. The tenants in the parable stand for the chief priests and elders, who are faithless servants of God.

Jesus invites his hearers to guess the ending of the parable, and they do. The landowner will take revenge against the dishonest tenants who have murdered his son. It seems the obvious answer. But it’s not God’s answer. Instead, after Jesus had been crucified, God raised him from the dead and he returned with a promise of mercy and forgiveness. God’s mercy is offered even to those who were responsible for Jesus’ death. He was crucified for our sins, and yet he offers us forgiveness. God’s ways are not our ways.

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