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.” (Mt 21:42-43)
The Gospel for this Friday of Lent is the Lord’s parable about the landowner who leased his lands to tenant farmers. One of the agreements, of course, would be for the tenants to pay their rent. The tenants were not doing so.
The landowner sent emissaries to the tenant farmers to receive what was his due. The emissaries were treated rather harshly. Some were even killed. So the landowner sent his own son, thinking that the tenants surely would respect the son. Seeing the son, the tenants seized and killed him, thinking that the land would then be theirs.
Jesus asked the chief priests and elders what they thought the landowner would do in this circumstance. Their response was quite pointed: “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.”
At that point, Jesus responded with the quote at the head of this reflection. It was then that the people realized Jesus was speaking of them.
What was their reaction? They wanted to rush Him and rid themselves of Him. But they were afraid to do so because, even though they despised Jesus, they knew that the crowds regarded Him as a truly great prophet. Rushing Jesus, harming Jesus, even killing Jesus would do them no good. They would have to bide their time in order to get Jesus. That was their ultimate goal.
There is another response, though. The other response would be to say, “Oh, God. He is speaking about me!” And, in that moment, to realize that I would have to change.
That is what the message of the Lord — the message of Lent — is all about. We are being reminded that we have a grave responsibility. We are being reminded that there are times we do not discharge our responsibility as we ought. We are being reminded that we must change.
We can take one of two approaches. We can rush the Lord and get Him out of our lives. Or, we can embrace the message of repentance and turn our lives around.
FAITH ACTION: Jesus tells a parable in today’s Gospel that infuriated the Pharisees. They wanted to go after Him but feared the crowds. What does God do or require of you that infuriates you? Attempt to embrace God’s will this day rather than to refute it or ignore it.
Remember, the Fridays of Lent are Days of Abstinence.
Refrain from eating meat today.