When my 2 year old nephew started crying, I gave him my mobile phone with the caller tune on, and he immediately stopped crying. I looked at him with a sense of achievement. He started playing with it for sometime. I was bit scared because the mobile phone was not safe in his hands. He could break it at any time. When the time came for me to move away from the place, I tried getting it back from him. He again started crying. He told me in his broken phrase that the phone was his. It was rather an embarrassing situation. At the end of it, my brother had to pull it away from him which made him cry all the more. This would have been the experience of most of us. We try to make the child happy by giving it whatever we have with us, but the moment the child receives the object it thinks that he/she becomes the owner of the object. In the case of child it is understandable because it is not aware of the situation but in the case of adults it is different story altogether.
The leaseholders knew it very well that they were not the owners of the vineyard. Yet they want to become the owners of the vineyard. They go even to the extent of killing the heir of the owner.
The exegesis of the parable is quite simple. The owner is God the Father, the vineyard is the kingdom of God, the tenants are the people of Israel, the different batches of servants are the prophets, the son is Jesus Christ and the new batch of tenants are the Gentiles. This parable gives the summary of the whole salvation history. God created the whole world and made human beings at the stewards to take care of the created world. The human beings due to their disobedience and with a desire to become like God, sinned against Him and broke the covenant. God did not stop here; He sent the judges, kings and the prophets as His messengers. But the people did not listen to them. They humiliated and even killed God’s messengers. God thus finally sends His only Son to redeem the world. But they did worse things to him and crucified Him.
Lessons for today
God has entrusted us with a lot of gifts and talents that could be used for the enhancement or our life and the life of society at large. We are only the stewards of the gifts not the owners. Our houses, house hold articles, our income, bank account, property, health, relationships and every other thing we possess are the gratuitous gifts of God. Whenever we think that we are the owners and whenever we use the gifts and talents for our selfish motives or purely for self promotion without sharing it with our neighbours we would be committing the same mistake of these wicked tenants.
Our lives are largely guided by pragmatism and utilitarianism. Whatever is practical, feasible or useful are considered as the truth. We tend to make use of the people only for our selfish motives. There are a few who will begin a conversation with others only if they want some favours from the individual concerned and once the work is done they move away from that person as if they had not seen that individual at all. What can we say about this? This is the simple example of Utilitarianism. Whenever we want only the benefits and whenever we exploit people for our ends, we commit the same mistake the wicked tenants committed.
This we see it everywhere. Many children abandon their parents in their old age, forgetting the amount of sacrifices the parents have made in bringing up their children. It can also happen in religious settings. Once the person steps down from the power, people tend to ignore them and act as if they have nothing more to do with that person. This happens almost in all the types of relationships. Are we not trying to act like the wicked tenants through our ingratitude and selfishness?