Memory of Jesus crucified

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 21, 33-45

'Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad.

When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce.

But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third.

Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way.

Finally he sent his son to them thinking, "They will respect my son."

But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, "This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance."

So they seized him and 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 answered, 'He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time.'

Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this is the Lord's doing and we marvel at it?

'I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and givena people who will produce its fruit.'

When they heard his parables, the chief priests and the scribes realised he was speaking about them,


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

To those who listen to Jesus, the vineyard undoubtedly represents the people of Israel and God is the one who cares for it with incredible love. Well, Jesus said that when “the harvest had come,” the landowner sent his servants to collect his produce. The tenants’ reaction was violent: they seized and killed his servants. The landowner sent other servants and they suffered the same vexations. It is a tragic synthesis of the violent opposition (also outside the Jewish-Christian tradition) to the servants of God, to people of the Word (prophets), to the righteous and honest of any place and time by those who want to serve and pile up possessions for themselves only. But the Lord — and this is the real thread of hope that saves history — never loses patience. “Finally” the landowner sent his son. He thought, “They will respect my son.” But the fury of the tenants exploded; they grabbed him, took him “out of the vineyard” and killed him. Maybe these words were clear to Jesus alone when he pronounced them. Today we understand them well too: they describe the rejection to welcome Jesus not only by single individuals, but by the city itself. Jesus was born out of Bethlehem; he died out of Jerusalem. Jesus clearly and courageously denounces the infidelity that culminates with the rejection and murder of the last and final messenger of God. God expects the “fruits” from the “vineyard” and is “rewarded” with the killing of His son. But God does not resign. From that son new tenants are born, they will take care of the vineyard and bear new fruits. The new tenants become a new people. But their link is not given by the same blood or external bonds, even “religious” ones, but by being in the Father’s love. The evangelist keeps on telling us that no one can claim rights of property: everything is a gift from the gratuitous love of god. The new people are qualified by the “fruits” of the Gospel. This means by faith which is at the root of the works of mercy and justice. In other words, fruits are faithfulness to God’s love and to His Gospel. As it is written, “He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit” (Jn 15:2); and also, “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:16).