Does God Recognize You As A Good Tenant ?

    There was a story in the newspapers sometime back about an 11-year-old boy in Los Angeles who hung himself with a bathrobe belt because his girlfriend broke up with him in an e-mail. The boy left no suicide note but told the 12-year-old girl in an E-mail that she "wasn't going to hear from him anymore." She sent back a message asking, "Do you mean suicide?", but he did not respond. The boy's father found his son hanging from a shower frame. The children had met at a summer camp about a month before. This may be dismissed as puppy love, but still there is pain. Actually, rejection is particularly hard on us when we are young because we are still forming opinions about our own self-worth.

      The parable in today's Gospel describes God as a landowner who prepared a beautiful vineyard and gave it to his people to tend. However, his people wanted not just their share of the harvest, but the whole thing. It speaks about salvation history. The people abused and killed the prophets God sent to help them. Finally, in a desperate attempt to save his world and his people, God sent his own Son. Nonetheless, they even abused and killed him to seize what they thought was their own. "What a silly story", one might say. No landowner in his right mind would risk sending his own son among rebels who had already murdered his messengers. How crazy can one be to believe in a God so dumb? But that is precisely the point of the parable.

    Where we would cry for vengeance on the tenants, God chose an alternative – the alternative of unconditional love. In spite of our history of rejecting God, he continues to love us. He considers everyone to be a good steward in his vineyard. Everyone is self-worthy, and there is no need to feel rejected. One who knows the unconditional love of God in his heart will not allow the world to make him feel rejected for long. When we have the love of God in our hearts, we carry a sense of security that the world cannot take away.

    Those who do not have the love of God in their hearts often try to put themselves in God's seat and act as if the world is under their control. They think they are supreme over all they survey. We forget that everything we have is on loan to us from God. We are temporary tenants. Everything belongs to God even though we sometimes act as if we own it all.

    At the end of our final journey, it doesn't matter what possessions we have left in this world. The only thing we ever really own is our faith in God. Everything else that we have is on loan. Someday it will be passed on to someone else. Don't you see? No matter how rich we are, if we are not rich in God, we don't have anything! The vineyard (world) belongs to him. Happiness is found in recognizing our place as his tenants as good stewards. Jesus calls us to Good Stewardship.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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