Parables of Jesus
Listen to another parable: there was a man who owned land and planted a vineyard there. He surrounded it with a hedge, dug a hole for the press and built a tower. He rented it to peasants and went away. When the time came to reap, I sent his servants to the farmers to collect the harvest. But the peasants took the servants and one beat him, the other killed him, the other stoned him. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them saying: They will have respect for my son! But the peasants, seeing their son, said to each other: He is the heir. Come on, let's kill him and we'll have his inheritance! They took him, chased him out of the vineyard and killed him. So: when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers? They said to him, "Those wicked ones will cause them to die miserably and lease the vineyard to other peasants, who will deliver the fruits in due time". And Jesus said to them: "You never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders they have discarded it has become the corner stone; by the Lord this has been done and it is a marvel in our eyes" Therefore I say to you: the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will bear fruit. Whoever falls on this stone will be smashed; and if it falls on someone, it will crush it." Hearing these parables, the chief priests and the Pharisees understood that he spoke of them. They tried to catch him, but they were afraid of the crowd because he considered him a prophet.
The parable, addressed to the chief priests, Pharisees and scribes, is to be understood in its context. The people of Israel are represented by the vineyard, which Jesus says is entrusted to peasants: these "operators" had to keep awake in the people the knowledge of the owner of the vineyard, that is, of the one who made it, but they took possession of it. So who are these unfair operators? They are the Pharisees, the scribes, the high priests and all those who in every age obscure the Commandment of God with their own interpretations. But why is what God, the master of the vineyard, commanded so important? In its literal meaning, "commandment" is a particular prescription, an order that must be observed, in order not to suffer the relative consequences and punishments.
The commandment in the religious field is intended as a command that comes directly from God; however, in its deepest sense, it is a manifestation of the thought of God, therefore it is a revelation of the Father towards his creatures, an act of love, a "command" given for the salvation of one's children. In the Old Testament, at the end of the Exodus and in Deuteronomy, the messianic teachings are reported, that is, the true interpretation of the Law that God has given to Moses, so that it could be accepted by the People for the salvation of the People themselves. Obedience to the Commandments is therefore not comparable to the observance of a human law: obeying the divine Commandments should rejoice, because in them God has offered the way to reach the goal of salvation and happiness.
Jesus, with this parable, wants to highlight that already in his time the Commandment of God had been led astray, removed from the truth. Addressing the Pharisees, scribes and high priests, he recalls what their mission as "operators" must have been in the Father's vineyard: they had to teach the purity of the Commandment, which he would prepare for the final revelation; instead they taught people what was lawful and consistent with their daily lives, they bent the Commandment of God to their free and finalized interpretation. They were like those peasants who themselves became masters of the vineyard. And Jesus turns to them with indignation, accusing their injustice and hypocrisy, with severe and direct expressions: "snakes, race of vipers!" (Mt 23.33); "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees hypocrites!" (Mt 23.13); "Woe to you, blind guides". (Mt 23.16).
And again "You fill the measure of your fathers!", Exclaims Jesus after further accusing the scribes and Pharisees of being complicit in the murder of the prophets". (Mt 23,29-32): "you are like whitewashed tombs, which they appear beautiful on the outside, but inside they are full of bones of the dead and of all garbage". (Mt 23,27).
But God never ceases to send his servants to keep His vineyard fertile and in order, that is to free his people from the darkening of the truth. In prophetic texts, when the servant of God speaks, he precedes his word with "Oracle of the Lord", to underline the source of his words. So did Elijah, when he worked to restore purity to the truth of God, even if he had to flee, because a persecution against him had begun.
And other prophets have had no different fate; Jeremiah, for example, had no better luck: "we want to walk following our thoughts, we want to act each one following the stubbornness of our evil heart ... Come, let's plot pitfalls against Jeremiah!; Because the law will not fail for lack of priests, neither advice for lack of sages, nor speech for lack of prophets. Come, let us stick it with the tongue and do not listen to any of his words" (Gr, 18,12-18).
In the parable reported by Matthew it is understood how centuries later the Pharisees behaved in exactly the same way: "Upon hearing these parables, the chief priests and the Pharisees understood that he spoke of them. They tried to catch him", with the intention of killing him. In this sense, the parable traces the entire history of the people of Israel, presenting the various servants sent by God who have been beaten from time to time, hunted, often tortured to death, up to the moment when the owner of the vineyard decides to send his Son, hoping that they have respect at least for him: "lastly he sent their own son to them", lastly, that is, after Him, there will no longer be any revelation, it is the last act with which God gives the world His word. But at the sight of the heir, the peasants have only one thought: to kill him! It is the fulfillment of man's wickedness, which has no limits and even goes so far as to kill God. It is on this that Matthew wants to warn us, because what has already happened can be repeated in today's church: now and always there will be farmers who want to take over the vineyard.
The book of Revelation anticipates this time, where revelation is hindered in its proclamation: it begins with the description of the content of the seven letters destined for the seven churches and warns us against antichrists, that is, those who want to appropriate the vineyard, of those who claim to bring the people to the knowledge of God, as new "priests", "Pharisees" and "scribes". What is striking, even in the story of the Apocalypse, is that the antichrists are those who should lead the church with truth. Today, as then, many speak of a God who is not the God revealed by Jesus, but is a God tailored to fit their human thoughts, their knowledge, their philosophy. In the letter to the church of Laodicea, "so Amen, the Witness worthy of faith and truth, speaks the principle of the creation of God: I know your works, I know that you are neither cold nor hot. Oh, I was at least cold or hot! But because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth". (Ap 3,15-16).
That church is led by those who make it lukewarm, indifferent to the Commandment of God, and therefore condemned to be rejected, vomited from the mouth of God. This is why Matthew reports this parable leaving it as an inheritance to the Christian community: he warns us, urges us to discernment, so that God may grant us the light to understand the true word, and walk on that path which gives us the revelation of Jesus Christ!
Jesus began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard, placed a hedge around it, dug a press, built a tower, then rented it to some winemakers and went away. At the time he sent a servant to pick up the fruits of the vineyard from those vintners. But they grabbed him, beat him and sent him back empty handed. He sent them another servant again: they also beat him on the head and covered him with insults. He sent another one, and this killed him; and of many others, whom he still sent, some beat them, others killed them. He still had one, the beloved son: he sent them last, saying: They will have respect for my son!
But those vintners said to each other: This is the heir; come on, let's kill him and the inheritance will be ours. And grabbing him, they killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. So what will the owner of the vineyard do? Those vintners will come and exterminate and give the vineyard to others. You have not perhaps read this Scripture: The stone that the builders have discarded has become the corner head; has this been done by the Lord and is it admirable in our eyes"
Then they tried to catch him, but they were afraid of the crowd; they had understood that he had said that parable against them. And, leaving him, they left.
Then he began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, entrusted it to farmers and went away for a long time. In time, he sent a servant to those farmers to give him part of the vineyard's harvest. But the cultivators beat him and sent him back empty handed. He sent another servant, but they also beat him, insulted him and sent him back empty handed. He sent another third, but this also wounded him and chased him away. The owner of the vineyard: What should I do? I will send my only son; perhaps they will respect him. When they saw him, the farmers argued among themselves saying: "This is the heir. Let's kill him and so the inheritance will be ours. And they hunted him." and they killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and send those farmers to death, and entrust the vineyard to others. " But when they heard this they exclaimed: "Never be!".
Then he turned to them and said: "What is what is written then: The stone that the builders have discarded has become the corner head? Whoever falls on that stone will break up and whoever falls on it will crush it".
The scribes and high priests then tried to put their hands on him, but they were afraid of the people. They understood that the parable had said it for them.