INSIDE THE READINGS


Ezekiel The first reading from Isaiah consists of an allegory, which can be interpreted on several levels. The literal sense addresses an agricultural scene, in which loving care is given to a vineyard, only to produce worthless fruit. Since the passage is introduced as a love song to a friend, it could be read as an allegory of marital infidelity, similar to Hosea Chapter 2. Finally, the verses understood in the historical context address the sins of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the southern Kingdom (Judah). A vineyard is a symbol for wealth, but this wealth has not produced justice. 

The second reading reminds the Philippian faithful to have no anxiety, offering two paths to peace. Believers should confidently make requests to God, and they are to continue to do what they have learned, received, heard, and seen in Paul. Paul closes his letter to the Philippians with an exhortation, reminiscent of stoic philosophy. The believers are to adhere to the virtues of truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, grace, and excellence. 

The Gospel reading picks up the theme of the vineyard found in Isaiah, but it is not the produce that is rotten, but the tenants. Addressing the religious leadership of Jerusalem, Jesus presents three parables in response to their criticism of him. These parables serve as a response to the 
criticism from and an indictment of the religious leadership. In today’s parable, Jesus describes an absentee landowner who attempts to collect his rent on three occasions, and each time the tenants beat, stone, and kill the servants sent. Finally, the landowner sends his son, expecting that the son will be respected. Instead the tenants kill the son, assuming that they will then inherit the vineyard. The vine is often a symbol for Israel. But here it isn’t the vine that is unproductive, but the caretakers. Jesus asks what the landowner should do to the tenants. The religious leaders respond, unaware that they are condemning themselves: “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death.” The chief priests and Pharisees recognize that Jesus is addressing them and want to arrest him