Anarchy Against the Divine

Twenty-Seventh Sunday-A

As with last week, Jesus informs the Chief Priests and Elders about the Kingdom of God using a parable, this time about a vineyard and its tenants.  The story begins by describing the owner of the vineyard who tamed the land and provided all the necessary structures to secure a harvest when the grapes came to their maturity. The owner decided to go on a trip and lease the land to tenants responsible for the yield. The landowner and the tenants would benefit from the arrangement in this case. The owner would have a well-run vineyard, while the tenants would receive compensation for their efforts. Usually, it’s a lovely arrangement, but the parable goes on.

When the vintage time drew near, the owner sent his servants to obtain his produce, but the tenants beat, killed, and stoned the owner’s representatives.  The owner sent another group to get the crop, but they were treated similarly. Finally, the owner sent his son, who was also killed. The parable’s moral is supplied by Jesus when he says, “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.”

The parable was first directed to the Chief Priests and Elders to make them realize that the Jewish religious class would not correctly recognize the landowner and the tenants. God is the landowner, and they are the tenants. They forgot who they were and who they were dependent on and, hence, even would kill the Son of God when he came to them.  Their utter ignorance and arrogance would later lead Jesus to utter the words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

Although the parable had meaning for the religious leaders years ago, it also has a poignant meaning for those in the present time. The parable describes a scene of chaos, the tenants having no regard for the ownership of the vineyard and, through violence, hope to take the vineyard as their own. The tenants in the parable are anarchists. Their hope to overthrow the order through intimidation and murder is evident by even killing the owner’s son.   They have no respect for the landowner or his representatives and place themselves at the level of the landowner even though they did not build the vineyard or own it. Disregarding the order of things will eventually lead to the tenant’s demise.

Anarchy has many forms, and the civil disobedience seen in many cities in the country is one example. Those who openly shoplift from chain stores are anarchists insofar as they have no respect for the civil order, nor do they respect other people’s property. They are today’s tenants described in the parable.

But civil disobedience is not the only way in which there is an attempt to overthrow authority.  There is a moral anarchy that is far more destructive than the stealing of another’s property. Moral anarchy is more harmful because it is directed to God, who has placed an order in the world for it to thrive and be productive. Those who try to reverse the order to their liking directly attack the divine. Their rebellion is predicated upon the disdain for the landowner, who is God, and the natural moral order he has established. Either through ignorance or will, they have denied and disrespected the one who gives them life itself.

The arrogance of moral anarchists’ rebellion has led to an erroneous belief that they can change the moral order to their liking, pretending they are the landowner and not the tenant. The violent attacks against the established moral order are folly by thinking they have the power to change reality. Nevertheless, moral anarchists often manifest their behavior in the abortion industry, which perpetrates violence and death against the unborn, and the LGBTQ+ propagandists who manipulate minds and destroy lives to achieve their goals of a Godless world. The ancient parable has a lot to say about the immoral culture today.  The new anarchists are as destructive and violent and are willing to kill as were the tenants in the parable.

Jesus tells us through the vineyard parable the Kingdom of God will be taken away from those who have contempt against the order of things and given to those who dare not. The Kingdom will be filled with people who know they are not the landowners and are respectful to the wishes of God, who does everything to benefit his creatures. When we become aware that all is God’s gift, the temptation to be anarchists against the divine becomes nonexistent. 

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