Most people would agree that the telling of stories is a good way to get a message across. In fact most stories, including children’s stories have a deeper message as the back bone of the plot. One story that springs to mind is the story of “The boy who cried wolf”. This story clearly teaches that it is always best to tell the truth, otherwise if we do not, then the time we need people to believe us they will think that we are just telling tales again. The Gospel parable for this Sunday fits into this category of being a story with a much deeper message. The message that Jesus is teaching is that we need to be prepared to align ourselves with God in order to receive God’s will in our life, rather than fighting against it and trying to impose our own ideas on how things should unfold.
The parable that Jesus tells the people this Sunday has many elements that are like a good moral story. However, there are many more layers to the parable than just the moral dimension. In this particular parable of the “landlord’s heir” we hear a recounting of what has historically taken place. The people that were sent to the tenants (the people of Israel) to collect the produce were the prophets sent to put God’s chosen people back on track. Yet the people refused to be corrected and as history tells us, the prophets were rejected, abused, and killed by the very people that they were sent to help. Finally, Jesus introduces himself into the story prophesying that some of the chosen people would reject him, and desire to kill him. Jesus refers to himself as a keystone which will be rejected by the people, who do not understand how God wishes to lead them.
In ancient times a keystone was not the stone that held up an arch as we see in European stone masonry. Instead Jesus is referring to a very large stone which would have been placed at the corner of the building and from which every other stone would take its placement from. We have this honour and challenge placed before us each day as Christians, we are called to face up to the keystone and take our life from his. Jesus prophesies that all the people of the world will be called to take their cue from him in order to bear the fruit that the people of Israel were reluctant to produce.
Jesus calls us into this new extended family and in a special way is calling us to always turn towards him, to always get our reference point from him. To ask God what he wants us to do with our life. This can be one of the hardest things to do. Yet, we don’t have to start at the hardest question, we can always start with today, asking God in prayer, what we can do to help build up the kingdom of God, what we can do to be that person that produces the fruit that God desires of us. When we place ourselves before God in prayer, we are facing ourselves toward the keystone, where we receive the guidance we need to be the people we are created to be.