As with the previous post, yesterday’s reading was addressed to religious leaders (this time, the chief priests and the scribes) (Mt 21:33-43, 45-46). Jesus tells the parable of the vineyard owner who leased to bad tenants. When the landowner sends people in his employ to get the produce of his land, they are beaten, stoned, or killed. Thinking his son will get respect, he too is killed. When Jesus asks His listeners what the landowner should do, the response is: kick out the current tenants and replace them with those who will properly care for the property. Jesus concludes by telling His listeners that they will lose the Kingdom and that it will be inherited by others. These men wanted to arrest Him but feared the crowds, as Jesus was very popular and considered a prophet. Targeting God’s servants for maltreatment is nothing new. Jesus talks about how the Old Testament prophets were abused; He is predicting here what may well happen to those who embrace the Lord and remain steadfast. All that being said, we can also learn from this at the personal level. We must be extremely cautions and introspective when we are challenged in encounters with others. Folks who are real trials for us, especially those who tell us what we don’t want to hear about ourselves, should be treated with the respect due to all children of God. Not to say that we must take abuse under all circumstances, but we should be more cognizant of opportunities to grow closer to God by acknowledging our real faults in all humility. May we never figuratively (and, of course, literally) beat, kill, or stone a messenger who God puts in our lives in order to help us reform; rather, let us treat it as an opportunity to show our love for God through an authentic and heartfelt witness to the Golden Rule..