Sin is irrational. Sin is illogical. It doesn’t make sense. Plain and simply- whether you want to think of sin as a violation of God’s Law or a betrayal of His Love- sin makes no sense.
Understanding sin in the hearts of the tenants in today's Gospel helps us understand our own illogical sin. These tenants, these managers, of this vineyard act illogically. They knew the promise they had made with the owner of the vineyard. They knew that the owner had a natural right to receive a share in the labor. Yet they rebel, beating and killing the servants and eventually going after the son of the owner himself. Listen to what they think, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.”
This makes no sense. In the tenant’s selfishness they forget that the owner has been fair. They forget that the owner has entrusted them with a beautifully appointed vineyard. They forget that the owner has only ever been just in what he has asked in return. Though we don’t know the exact fate of the tenants, it is fair to say they didn’t long hold onto the son’s inheritance.
Many of our own sins make no sense, either. We have been entrusted with many gifts: brains, brawn, money, success, and all of them have been given to us by God and we must put them all to good use. We in America especially have gifts of success and power that God has given in our democracy- even if we are in a recession. We will be accountable to God for the ways we treat the poor, the hungry, and the homeless. If we don’t use those gifts for good, we are acting illogically.
The greatest, most potent, most precious gift that God gives us is life. The fact that I have breath this day is a gift. I do not control it, I can not lengthen it, and I must cherish my life. As long as I am alive there are possibilities, there are opportunities for grace, goodness, and God. And I also must cherish your life.
I cannot imagine how sad it is for those for whom life seems like a burden. Is this not the ultimate curse- the gift of life, with opportunity and promise becomes a sign of despair from which the only hope is death, the end of life. Whether it is the elderly, the young, the depressed, or the unborn, all people need to be cherished, to be revered, and to be esteemed. Those who despair life: from their own suffering, their own unexpected pregnancy, or their own depression must be given every opportunity to find this irrefutable truth: life is hope.
As tenants of our own lives, of our families, our parish and our society, we will be accountable for how we care for the weak, the poor, the elderly, and the unborn. If we have opportunities to defend them, to visit them, and to protect them we must take it. Instead of fearing life we must choose life. Instead of fearing the owner of the vineyard, the giver of life, we must bring him a rich harvest, the fruit of our own life. And then we will be people of hope.