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Fr Tom Lavin
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The following meditations are taken with permission from Intercom Magazine
Sun 8th Oct 2017
SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS
1. The target audience of this allegorical parable are the Jewish chief priests and elders portrayed here as rejecting Jesus and his teaching, and as a consequence losing out on what God was offering them. It is a story of opportunity for life presented and rejected, and they lose out in the process. How important have you found it to recognise and accept opportunities for growth, development and new life when these were presented to you?
2. The parable is also a cautionary tale about the destructive effects of greed – doing violence to the rights of others and eventually destroying the greedy themselves. What attitude towards possessions has helped you to be at peace in yourself and at peace with others?
3. The vineyard of the Lord is an image for God’s people. As we look at the vineyard we have been given we can ask ourselves ‘are we good tenants?’ Recall times when you have been a good tenant, and reached out caringly for those around you.
4. ‘It was the stone rejected by the builders that became the keystone. This was the Lord’s doing and it was wonderful to see’. Sometimes a person not highly regarded plays a key role in a project, and it is wonderful to see. Can you recall examples of this?
John Byrne osa
When God wants to speak to our hearts he leads us to the wilderness. This was his pedagogy with the people of Israel. They had lessons to learn and he had much to teach them. They were schooled and seasoned in the desert. And the schooling was a good forty years!
The forty years in the desert for the Israelites was a fairly long novitiate. God was their Novice Master! He formed them well with lessons that would last a lifetime! They needed to know that he alone was their God and that they were his people. They had to know too that they needed him for they depended entirely on him as he screened them from the scorching sun during the day and sheltered them at night from the freezing cold.
The desert is the place between promise and fulfilment. God had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt but they still had to cross the desert to reach the Promised Land. It was not an easy lesson that they had to learn. It took them some forty years!
We who are time bound and always in a hurry find it difficult to keep pace with God’s eternal rhythm.
Mgr Alex Rebello,
Wandering in the Wilderness: Discovering the Divine in Everyday Things
THE DEEP END: Where is God?
As someone who has willingly left these shores to assist people on the margins, I am familiar with the inhumanity of man to his fellow man, where millions of people are left to their own devices, forgotten in their own poverty. The I’m alright attitude permeates not just the so called ‘developing world’; it is alive and well here in Ireland.
Does God, like the absentee landowner in the gospel parable, leave us and depart for another country? A personal relationship with anybody means that the person is present. God should be no different. God is deep within our heart, not something out there and distant! I battle with the castigation of the high priests and elders, the negative portrayal of the people of God, and the raw deal for the slaves that came to rescue the situation. Is this the forgiving God that out of the worst injustices can transform human hearts?
So where is the hope? Jesus doesn’t condemn in the passage: he invites us to understand his meaning. He asks the elders what they would do. This question is asked of us too.
Jesus then refocuses the parable: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’. This is the high point of this gospel, where Jesus reminds us of the marvel that he is: the one that was rejected, the one that was overlooked – the one abandoned by us. It is this stone, this rock, that becomes our Saviour. The rock symbolises one who never leaves us. God loves us not because we are good but because God is good.