Our Models of Stewardship

Matthew 21: 33-43, 45-46
Gn 37:3-4.12-13.17-28 / Ps 105

The stone which the builders rejected has become the main cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
(Matthew 21:42)

Our life’s a vineyard on a lease,
We must share part of its produce;
We can’t just squander as we please,
Or else this stewardship we’ll lose.

Jesus was referring to the Jewish authorities as the wicked tenants to whom God (the Landowner) first entrusted His vineyard (the kingdom). God had ‘planted’ His covenant with the Jews, brought them to the Promised Land, and had their own temple built to set them apart from other people. But when God sent his prophets to them, they had them persecuted. Now, when God’s Son Himself came bringing the Good News of salvation, the Jews rejected Him too, and drove Him out of their vineyard (to Calvary), where they persecuted and killed Him. Jesus even reminded them of this prophecy in the Old Testament: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Ps.118:22) And true enough, Christ, Whom the builders of Judaism rejected has become the cornerstone of Christianity.

Reflection

Our Lord’s parable of the wicked tenants was a prophecy of the impending transfer of God’s inheritance to the gentiles. The Jews had rejected the Good News of the Son, so the Father gave His legacy to non-Jews. Recall Joseph, the closest precursor of Jesus in the Old Testament. Although the favorite of his father, he was also rejected by his own brothers. He was sold to foreigners for twenty pieces of silver, and was brought to Egypt as a slave. But his deprivation and exile to Egypt would later on prove to be a blessing for the nation of Israel, as he would save his people as well as many other nations from starvation because of his astute stewardship of Egypt’s resources. The rejected son had thus become his nation’s cornerstone.

Let us also call to mind St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, whose feast day is on March 17. The life story of St. Patrick bears resemblance to that of Joseph, the dreamer. He was also shipped to Ireland as a slave, after being kidnapped in England at the age of 16. He was also a shepherd, and like Joseph, was guided by a dream, wherein he was told to return to Britain. Escaping from his masters, he took shelter and studied in monasteries, until he was ordained a priest, and eventually consecrated as a bishop. Returning to Ireland by order of Pope Clementine, he was largely responsible for its total conversion into the Catholic faith in 33 years of stewardship. We have Joseph, the patriarch and St. Patrick to follow as our models of stewardship. All of us will be called to account, whether we have given back to the Landlord His rightful share. As managers, we may be tempted to believe that we own what has been entrusted to us and that we can do with our talents and resources as we please. That would be missing the entire point of our Lord’s beautiful parable.

Let me not forget, Lord, that I am but a tenant of this borrowed life; grant me the wisdom to employ what you have leased to me according to Your will. Amen.

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