God Saves (from my book ‘A Shepherd’s Voice’, 2007)
This parable gives us salvation history in a nutshell. Let us examine the rich symbolism of the story. The landowner is God. The vineyard is the nation of Israel and the tenants are the religious leaders of God‘s chosen people. The servants dispatched by the landowner to collect the produce and seized by the tenants are the prophets. The son killed by the evil tenants is Jesus Christ. From the simple explanation of the symbols, we can put the pieces of the puzzle together. In the story of salvation, the recurring theme has always been God‘s saving love and His fidelity to the Israelites; but this chosen people‘s response has been betrayal and unfaithfulness due to sin. In the Old Testament, they rejected the prophets sent by God, who proclaimed the call to conversion. Even in the New Testament, the religious leaders branded John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, as insane. God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to manifest profoundly His compassionate love for the people He chose since the beginning. But the Pharisees and Scribes criticized and rejected Him. The religious leaders plotted His death and successfully brought Him to His crucifixion. Indeed, Jesus “was the stone rejected by the builders that became the keystone.” (Matthew 21:42) The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross brought life and salvation to the world.
Isn‘t it striking how Jesus was able to capture in one parable the story of our salvation? There is a very powerful lesson about God which we can reflect on in the parable. This lesson is about God‘s fidelity. We note how God never stopped sending messengers to proclaim His message of salvation. He was ever faithful in His saving action.
I remember the story of a man who was at the seashore saving a scorpion stuck in a pile of rocks. Every time he tried to hook and pick the scorpion with his fingers, the scorpion bit and stung him with its poisonous venom. Despite the action of the scorpion, he continued to save the scorpion from being stuck between the rocks. A passerby observed what was happening and asked the man, “Why do you keep saving that scorpion which will eventually sting you to death?” The man replied, “If it is the nature of this scorpion to kill, it is the nature of a human being to save.”
God saves. He also challenges us to be instruments of His salvation. How can we do this? We can start by making people feel how God personally loves us in spite of our sinfulness; that we are loved sinners.
During our Bishop‘s retreat, in one of the talks given by Bishop Pablo ―Ambo David, Auxiliary Bishop of San Fernando, Pampanga, he shared with us the challenge of a paradigm shift in shepherding a community. He said that we must shift from the idea of a ‘community of the saved’ to a ‘saving community’. We should be a saving community. Let us cooperate with God‘s saving grace and be effective instruments of God‘s salvation for others.
Share this insight for the #27thsundayinordinarytime