Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage – 2nd Week of Lent – Friday – Matt 21:33-43; 45-46
Entering Jerusalem for Passion Week, Christ clashes with the Jewish leadership after He clears the Temple. Responding to their challenge to His authority, Christ responds with several parables including the Parable of the Wicked Tenants which He uses to both rebuke and call the Jewish leadership to repentance.
In slightly veiled terms, the parable tells of how God has given men a fruitful earth and has sent prophets, and ultimately His Beloved Son, to call men to fruitful lives. God (A householder) has given men (tenants) a beautiful Creation (a vineyard with hedge and winepress). God, who is unseen (goes to another country), sends His prophets (servants) to call men to holy lives (produce fruit). Wicked men (Jewish leadership, evil men) abuse (beat, kill, stone) God’s prophets (servants). God (the householder) sends His Son Jesus (the son) but wicked men (Jewish leadership, evil men) kill Christ, seeking to rule the world (get the inheritance). Amazingly, when Christ questions the Jewish leadership about what God should do (the householder), they incriminate and condemn themselves (wretches) to death.
Christ quotes the 1000-year-old scripture of the “cornerstone” (Psalms 118:22-23) which cryptically refers to His Resurrection and the building of the Catholic Church. After speaking in veiled terms, Christ explicitly condemns the Jewish leadership for their lack of holiness (fruits) and reveals God will withhold His blessings from Israel and give His blessings to others (fruitful nations); ominously, Christ warns of destruction (broken to pieces, crush) to those who reject Him (omitted verse 44). The Jewish leaders finally realize Christ is condemning them but fail to act out of fear of the enthusiastic crowd.
1) Crowds are awed by Christ’s powerful parables, magnificent oratory and fearless condemnation of the corrupt Jewish leadership. Re-read and imagine you are witnessing Christ’s actions in today’s Gospel. Be awed.
2) Christ accurately predicts that God will build the Catholic Church upon Christ, the cornerstone. During Lent, refresh your understanding behind the Creed’s profession, I believe in the Holy Catholic Church (CCC 748-810), and pray for Christ to help you grow in love and service to His Church.
3) Christ reveals that men are called to and will be judged on their fruitfulness. During Lent, review the Catechism’s summary of Grace and Justification (CCC 1987-2029) and pray for Christ’s grace to help you accept and do His will.