Parables for Listening

4 June 2007 Monday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 12, 1-12 Parable of the Vineyard

The parables as we read today is actually meant to be heard; like a poem that is meant to be spoken and its meaning is what flashes out of our minds at first hearing. When Jesus uses parables to bring out His message, He used imagery that was familiar to Jews. The vineyard for example has been an image of the Kingdom of God and its people. The vineyard’s imagery has been used by Isaiah (5, 1-7) among others. Thus, the vineyard owner is God; the cultivators are the religious rulers of Israel; the servants of the owner are Moses, David or the prophets who were all called by God.

The parable speaks lengthily of the vineyard being provided of its necessary equipment, furniture, structure such as the tower, a press, and a wine vat. It also speaks of the unrest within the tenants themselves. During the time of Jesus, there has been similar political unrest.

One of the characteristic of the vineyard owner — God — is that the owner has provided everything to run the whole winery. Thus God has already provided all the necessary things for us to make our life and our work easier for us. The harvest is plenty, the victory is assured. The vineyard needs cultivators, who unfortunately took advantage of the owners’ absence. All that the cultivators should do is to till the soil.

At this point, we can ask ourselves in whatever state we are in: Do we cooperate with God in cultivating our talents and our abilities? Or do we use our abilities to cheat on others, to be complacent and lazy, to be selfish and self-preserving?

Second, the owner went away and left the cultivators run the whole venture on their own. The owner has put his whole trust on cultivators. Thus, whoever was appointed carries the whole program. God treats us similarly. He allows us to run our lives freely.

Thus, do we run our lives freely? Freedom in the Christian sense is not about the ability to choose to do anything, but to choose only what is good (to choose evil is imprisonment, not freedom. Simple: when one chooses drugs, he or she becomes addicted to it.).

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