Matthew 21: 33-43. 45-46

“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.

Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved

Reversed Roles

In many of Jesus’ parables the roles seem clear. We easily cast God as the forgiving father, Jesus as the bridegroom, or ourselves as the lost sheep. Parables, however, need not have cut and dried roles.Viewing these stories from different angles can open our heart to new experiences of God.

Today’s parable is no different. We can easily cast God as the landowner, Jesus as his son, and ourselves as the tenants. For your own prayer, try recasting parts. Put yourself in the position of the landowner and listen to the questions which may come to you.

Are you able to trust as freely as the landowner? What or who in your life produces fruit and gives God glory? Are you able to let go of things which do not bear fruit? In this Lenten springtime of faith, let us shed anything which prohibits us from bearing fruit.

—Mark Bartholet is the Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation at St. Peter Catholic Church, a Jesuit-staffed parish in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is also a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.


Love consists in sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves.

Love ought to show itself in deeds more than words.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola