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The parable of the tenants



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.



The stone that the builders rejected. The parable shows the contrast between the graciousness of the vineyard owner toward the tenants and the sheer ingratitude of the latter. The owner hands the tenants a well-established vineyard — all they need to do is to oversee it and give the owner his share at harvest time. But their response to the owner’s graciousness is an overwhelming ingratitude and utter evil in that they even kill his son. In all of this, we can almost hear the owner in wonderment: “What more can I do for you to show you how much I care for you?”

Ingratitude is one disease that can attack anyone of us — especially if we have a strong sense of entitlement. Sometimes we think that the world owes us everything, that we deserve this and that. And so we fall into the deep pit of ingratitude. We can no longer say “thank you” and appreciate the blessings we receive, especially the smaller ones. Worse, as the story shows, we can even turn evil, covetous, and murderous — eliminating obstacles on our way to attaining what we desire.


SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Website:

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