Models of Stewardship

Matthew 21: 33-43, 45-46
Gen 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 told the chief priests and the elders,) “Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to Him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and will lease out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’! Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking about them. But when they tried to arrest Him, they feared the multitudes, because they held Him to be a prophet. (Matthew 21: 33-43, 45-46)

Reflection

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.

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.

We have Joseph, the patriarch to follow as our model 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 so please. That would be missing the whole 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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