Friday, 22 March 2019
Gospel Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: "Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.' They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?" They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times." Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit." When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
Meditation: Of all the rejections that have been experienced throughout the ages, there is one that stands out above the rest. It’s the rejection of the Son of God. Jesus had nothing other than pure and perfect love in His Heart. He wanted the absolute best for everyone He encountered. And He was willing to offer the gift of His life to whoever would accept it. Though many have accepted it, many have also rejected it.
It’s important to understand that the rejection Jesus experienced left deep pain and suffering. Certainly the actual Crucifixion was extraordinarily painful. But the wound He experienced in His Heart from the rejection of so many was His greatest pain and caused the greatest of suffering.
Suffering in this sense was an act of love, not an act of weakness. Jesus didn’t suffer interiorly because of pride or a poor self image. Rather, His Heart hurt because He loved so deeply. And when that love was rejected, it filled Him with the holy sorrow spoken of in the Beatitudes (“Blessed are they who mourn…” Matthew 5:4). This sort of sorrow was not a form of despair; rather, it was a deep experience of the loss of the love of another. It was holy, and a result of His burning love for all.
When we experience rejection it is hard to sort out the pain we feel. It’s very hard to let the hurt and anger we feel turn into a “holy sorrow” which has the effect of motivating us toward a deeper love of those whom we mourn over. This is difficult to do but is what our Lord did. The result of Jesus doing this was the salvation of the world. Imagine if Jesus would have simply given up. What if, at the time of His arrest, Jesus would have called on the myriads of angels to come to His rescue. What if He would have done this thinking, “These people are not worth it!” The result would have been that we would have never received the eternal gift of salvation by His death and Resurrection. Suffering would not have been transformed into love.
Reflect, today, upon the deep truth that rejection is potentially one of the greatest gifts we have to fight against evil. It’s “potentially” one of the greatest gifts because it all depends on how we ultimately respond. Jesus responded with perfect love when he cried out, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” This act of perfect love in the midst of His ultimate rejection enabled Him to become the “Cornerstone” of the Church and, therefore, the Cornerstone of new life! We are called to imitate this love and to share in His ability to not only forgive, but to also offer the holy love of mercy. When we do, we also will become a cornerstone of love and grace for those who need it the most.
Lord, help me to be that cornerstone. Help me to not only forgive every time I’m hurt, but let me also offer love and mercy in return. You are the divine and perfect example of this love. May I share in this same love, crying out with You, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus, I trust in You.