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(Sunday XXVII OT — A) The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen

Submitted by on Saturday, 1 October 2011No Comment

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Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  Isaiah 5:1-7
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80
  • Reading II: Philippians 4:6-9
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 21:33-43

The parable of the wicked husbandmen is the second of a series of judgment parables told by Jesus to groups of Jewish leaders who will have a hand in his death. The theme of judgment is already announced in Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree, the morning that he returns into Jerusalem to confront the elders, the chief priests and the scribes. In Matthew’s version of this episode, omits the Marcan explanation that the fig tree’s unfruitfulness is due to it not being the season for figs.

The son has come to ask for the Father’s harvest of fruits. But like the servants before him, he too is murdered by the husbandmen. The theme of the killing of the prophets will be explicitly stated in Matthew 23:29-39.

In a way, the parable of the wicked husbandmen echoes the judgment pronounced by Isaiah on the Southern Kingdom of Israel, the Vineyard of the Lord which refuses to bear fruits of justice and righteousness (Isaiah 5, cf. Reading I).   The responsorial psalm (Psalm 80) is a national lament where Israel bemoans its destruction at the hands of foreign powers. 

In parable, Jesus’ interlocutors were forced to answer the question regarding the comeuppance of the wicked tenants.  Their answer is used by Jesus to talk about a transfer of privileges.  Because of their refusal to render fruit, the privilege of being under God’s reign will be transferred to another nation. The quotation from the psalms about the stone rejected but becomes the cornerstone of a new building is a reference to the Resurrection, where Christ, the Son, becomes the Head of His Body, the Church.

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Isaiah 5:1-7
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1I will sing to my beloved the canticle of my cousin concerning his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a hill in a fruitful place.
2And he fenced it in, and picked the stones out of it, and planted it with the choicest vines, and built a tower in the midst thereof, and set up a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it broutht forth wild grapes.
3And now, O ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and ye men of Juda, judge between me and my vineyard.
4What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it?
5And now I will shew you wnat I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted: I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.
6And I will make it desolate: it shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged: but briers and thorns shall come up: and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it.
7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel: and the man of Juda, his pleasant plant: and I looked that he should do judgment, and behold iniquity: and do justice, and behold a cry.
Philippians 4:6-9
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
6Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.
7And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.
9The things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these do ye, and the God of peace shall be with you.
Matthew 21:33-43
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
33Hear ye another parable. There was a man an householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen; and went into a strange country.
34And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits thereof.
35And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants, beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
36Again he sent other servants more than the former; and they did to them in like manner.
37And last of all he sent to them his son, saying: They will reverence my son.
38But the husbandmen seeing the son, said among themselves: This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance.
39And taking him, they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him.
40When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen?
41They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end; and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render him the fruit in due season.
42Jesus saith to them: Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? By the Lord this has been done; and it is wonderful in our eyes.
43Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof.
Matthew 23:29-39
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
29Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; that build the sepulchres of the prophets, and adorn the monuments of the just,
30And say: If we had been in the days of our Fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets.
32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?
34Therefore behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city:
35That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar.
36Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.
37Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not?
38Behold, you house shall be left to you, desolate.
39For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

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