Being a Good Tenant

One long-suffering landlord tells of having to evict tenants who refused to pay their rent, in spite of repeated calls and personal visits. Before they left, however, the tenants trashed the house: The front door was shattered; the drains were clogged with paraffin; the electric system was intentionally shorted out; beer bottles were used to smash the windows; all the appliances were sold; the carpet was ruined with bleach; battery acid was poured on the floor tiles; and the walls were spray painted and hacked with a knife.

The parable Jesus told in today’s gospel includes a landlord horror story. These tenants, however, didn’t simply refuse to pay the rent. The beat and killed those whom the landlord sent to collect it- including the landlord’s son. These tenants weren’t just vandals and deadbeats. They were murderers!

Jesus told this parable as a challenge and a warning to certain religious leaders of his day: They were the tenants in the story; the landowner is God the Father; the son is Jesus himself; and the vineyard represents the people of God.

But in a sense, we can understand this parable as being a challenge to us too. Just as the religious leaders in question had been given stewardship of God’s people, we too have been given stewardship, or responsibility, for the things of God- people, property, talents, opportunities, and time. Indeed, all of creation is ultimately God’s, and nothing takes place in it unless he allows it to happen. As Christians, even our own lives are not our own. “A Christian is not his own master,” wrote St. Ignatius of Antioch, “since all his time belongs to God.” In all things, we are simply custodians.

You and I have been entrusted with great gifts, for which one day we must render an account. We have a generous and patient landlord; may we be faithful and responsible tenants.

Reading for today’s Mass:

Photo Credit: Editor B via Creative Commons