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