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Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Mt. 21:33-43

An eviction notice to the nation of Israel is the subject of today's Gospel reading. Jesus was warning the Jews that they would either pay their rent or they would lose their place in His kingdom.

The warning came in the form of a parable. It was about a landowner who planted a vineyard, made all the necessary preparations for an abundant harvest, and then leased it out to tenant farmers. The agreement was that when the crop was gathered, the tenant would pay an agreed percentage to the landowner.

But when harvest came something went wrong. He sent servants to collect his share of the crop but the tenants refused to pay. Instead, they abused the servants and kept all of the harvest to themselves. Then the owner sent his son, thinking that they would respect him. It made no difference. The tenants plotted to kill the son, hoping to steal the inheritance and keep it as their own. Finally, the owner had no choice but to reclaim his vineyard, and to let it out to other tenants.

And what is Jesus telling us in this parable? He is reminding us of our position in this world. We are only tenant farmers. We do not own anything. It is only ours to use for a little while because, ultimately, everything in this world belongs to God. Deep in our hearts, we all recognise this truth, but we commit our time and energy to their accumulation and act as if these earthly possessions were ours forever.

One of the most famous stories that Jesus ever told was about a rich farmer whose harvest was so great that his barns could not hold it. So he built larger barns and said to himself that he would eat, drink and be merry because he had all that he needed for years to come." But God called the man a fool and asked him, "Whose will these things be that you have provided when you die?”

This is the question we all have to answer. Certainly they will not be ours for very long and even if we leave them to our heirs, it will not be theirs for very much longer either. In this world we are only tenants. The ultimate and final ownership is God's. If we fail to recognise that truth, we are fooling ourselves.

The other truth contained in this parable is that we must pay the rent or lose the lease. Jesus told the chief priest and elders, "The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will yield a rich harvest." In other words, either use it or lose it. If you don't use your muscles, you lose the ability to use them. Strap your right arm to your side. Leave it there for six weeks. When you release it, it will be surprising if you can lift it above your head. The same can be observed in other realms of living. If we don't pray, we weaken our ability to pray. If we don't give, we forget the joy of giving.

It is very sad when we fail to use the privileges at our disposal. Every privilege carries with it a corresponding responsibility. If we don't use it, we lose it. We all have every opportunity to live life to the full. What we do with it is up to us.

Lord Jesus Your grace is there, helping us to make the most of life which holds us accountable for the things that we have, and if we don't pay the rent, we lose the lease. May we be numbered among the winners, not the losers in life, nor in death.

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