Yeshua said: A good man owned a vineyard.
He entrusted it to tenant farmers to work it in return for a portion of the produce.

At harvest time the owner sent his servant to collect his share
of the fruit of the vineyard.
The tenants seized the servant, beat him, and almost killed him.
The servant returned and reported to his master what had happened.
His master said: ‘Perhaps they did not recognize my servant.’
He sent another servant; the farmers beat this one as well.

Then the master sent his son saying: ‘Perhaps they will respect my son.’

But those farmers, knowing that this was the heir to the vineyard,
seized him and killed him.
Whoever has two ears hear.

(Matthew 21:33-41; Isaiah 5:1-5)

There are times when my response to “the master’s” generous invitation is not just benign neglect. At times I go beyond mere distraction and move across the line into active opposition.

I do not want to heed the “good man” who owns the “vineyard.” I want to be left alone to do things my way. I do not want the interfering voice of Love to be constantly calling me to “respect” the deeper values of self-giving, beauty, and gentleness.

When I cross the line from neglect to outright resistance, I slip into patterns of violent behaviour that inflict destruction and suffering on the world. I hurt and the world hurts when I resist the gentle prompting of my truer and deeper nature.

Yeshua calls me to heed the message of the vineyard owner’s servants. They speak everywhere and always, calling me again and again to pay attention to love, to live gently in this world, to respect and honour the owner of the vineyard in which I am privileged to toil for a time.

Yeshua leaves it as an open question what happens to me when, in my determination to assert my autonomy over life, I finally seek to silence even the voice of the owner’s son. Perhaps at the end of this story I need to recall the endless grace extended by the man who “prepared a dinner party” in Saying 64 and never gave up seeking to fill his banquet hall with “anyone” the messengers could find.

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Today I will seek to acknowledge that the vineyard of my life is a gift and will choose to honour the giver of this gift returning to the owner the “portion of the produce” by which I acknowledge that nothing is mine by my own right.

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