By Jim Fair
Pope Francis in his commentary before today’s Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, parsed the parable of the murderous vintners from the 21st chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.
“The image of the vineyard is clear: it represents the people that the Lord has chosen and formed with such care; the servants sent by the landowner are the prophets, sent by God, while the son represents Jesus,” the Holy Father said. “And just as the prophets were rejected, so too Christ was rejected and killed.
“With this very harsh parable, Jesus confronts his interlocutors with their responsibility, and He does so with extreme clarity. But let us not think that this admonition applies only to those who rejected Jesus at that time. It applies to all times, including our own. Even today God awaits the fruits of His vineyard from those He has sent to work in it. All of us.”
Following is the Pope’s full commentary provided by the Vatican:
Dear brothers and sisters, good day!
In today’s Gospel passage (see Mt 21:33-43) Jesus, foreseeing His passion and death, tells the parable of the murderous vintners, to admonish the chief priests and elders of the people who are about to take the wrong path. Indeed, they have bad intentions towards Him and are seeking a way of eliminating Him.
The allegorical story describes a landowner who, after having taken great care of his vineyard (see v. 33), had to depart and leave it in the hands of farmers. Then, at harvest time, he sends some servants to collect the fruit; but the tenants welcome the servants with a beating and some even kill them. The householder sends other servants, more numerous, but they receive the same treatment (see vv. 34-36). The peak is reached when the landowner decides to send his son: the winegrowers have no respect for him, on the contrary, they think that by eliminating him they can take over the vineyard, and so they kill him too (cf. vv. 37-39).
The image of the vineyard is clear: it represents the people that the Lord has chosen and formed with such care; the servants sent by the landowner are the prophets, sent by God, while the son represents Jesus. And just as the prophets were rejected, so too Christ was rejected and killed.
At the end of the story, Jesus asks the leaders of the people: “When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (v. 40). And, caught up in the logic of the narrative, they deliver their own sentence: the householder, they say, will severely punish those wicked people and entrust the vineyard “to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time” (v. 41).
With this very harsh parable, Jesus confronts his interlocutors with their responsibility, and He does so with extreme clarity. But let us not think that this admonition applies only to those who rejected Jesus at that time. It applies to all times, including our own. Even today God awaits the fruits of His vineyard from those He has sent to work in it. All of us.
In any age, those who have authority, any authority, also in the Church, in God’s people, may be tempted to work in their own interests instead of those of God. And Jesus says that true authority is when carries out service; it is in serving, not exploiting others. The vineyard is the Lord’s, not ours. Authority is a service, and as such should be exercised, for the good of all and for the dissemination of the Gospel. It is awful to see when people who have authority in the Church seek their own interests.
Saint Paul, in the second reading of today’s liturgy, tells us how to be good workers in the Lord’s vineyard: that which is true, noble, just, pure, loved and honored; that which is virtuous and praiseworthy, let all this be the daily object of our commitment (cf. Phil 4:8). Repeat: that which is true, noble, just, pure, loved, and honored; that which is virtuous and praiseworthy, let all this be the daily object of our commitment. It is the attitude of authority and also of each one of us, because every one of us, even in a small, tiny way, has a certain authority. In this way we shall become a Church ever richer in the fruits of holiness, we shall give glory to the Father who loves us with infinite tenderness, to the Son who continues to give us salvation, and to the Spirit who opens our hearts and impels us towards the fullness of goodness.
Let us now turn to Mary Most Holy, spiritually united with the faithful gathered in the Shrine of Pompeii for the Supplication, and in October let us renew our commitment to pray the Holy Rosary.
After the Angelus the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Yesterday I was in Assisi to sign the new Encyclical Fratelli tutti on fraternity and social friendship. I offered it to God on the tomb of Saint Francis, who inspired me, as in the previous Laudato si’. The signs of the times clearly show that human fraternity and care of creation form the sole way towards integral development and peace, already indicated by the Popes Saints John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II. Today, to you in the square – and also those outside the square – I have the joy of giving the new Encyclical, in a special edition of the Osservatore Romano. And with this edition, the daily printed edition of the Osservatore Romano resumes. May Saint Francis accompany the Church’s path of fraternity, among believers of every religion, and among all peoples.
Today concludes the Time of Creation, which began on 1 September and in which we celebrated a “Jubilee for the Earth” along with our brethren of other Christian Churches. I greet the representatives of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the various Laudato si’ circles and associations of reference, engaged in journeys of integral ecology. I rejoice at the initiatives that are being implemented today in various places, and in particular I recall that of the Po Delta area.
On 4 October one hundred years ago, the Opera Stella Maris was founded in Scotland to support the people of the sea. On this important anniversary I encourage chaplains and volunteers to joyfully witness the presence of the Church in ports, and among seafarers, fishermen, and their families.
Today, in Bologna, Don Olinto Marella, a priest from the diocese of Chioggia, a pastor after Christ’s heart, father of the poor and defender of the weak, is beatified. May his extraordinary witness be a model for many priests, called to be humble and courageous servants of God’s people. Now a round of applause for the new Blessed!
I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims from various countries – I see so many flags… families, parish groups, associations, and individual faithful. In particular, I greet the families and friends of the Swiss Guards, who have come to witness today the swearing-in of the new recruits. They are excellent men! The Swiss Guard undertakes a life journey in the service of the Church, of the Supreme Pontiff. They are excellent men who come here for two, three, four years and more. I ask you for a warm round of applause for the Swiss Guard.
And I wish you all a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch, and goodbye!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
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