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There are two sets of people who desperately need each other in the world, and they are landlords and tenants. There are many stories about heartless landlords who are more interested in their rents but pay little or dismissive attention to the living conditions of their tenants.

On the other hand, some tenants are insatiable as they complain about everything around the property, and if you allow them, they could even blame the landlord for the weather. There are also a few stories about harmonious landlord-tenant relationships rolling into many years.

In the world today, most Tenants dream of becoming landlords, and we see this happening around the globe as people purposefully work on their landlord dreams. Avail, landlord support and property research company based in Chicago, reports that out of the 44 million rental units in the United States 24 million, (55%) belong to independent landlords (about 8 million people) who were mostly former tenants.

There is one fact that we must have in our minds as we proceed in this reflection, and that is the fact that whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you are still a tenant in this world, and God is our ultimate and unchangeable landlord.

In the Gospel Reading (Matthew 21:33-43), our Lord Jesus continues his address to the chief priests and the elders of the people using another parable. A landowner planted a vineyard, fenced it, dug a winepress, and built a tower on the vineyard and leased it out to tenants. The tenants had only the duty of taking care of the vineyard and bringing forth the fruits.  

There is always a time of harvest. When that time came, the landlord sent his servants to get the fruits of the vineyard, but the servants got an aggressive response from the tenants. They had one beaten, killed another and yet another was stoned. The landlord did not stop at the first batch, again he sent more servants, and they repeated what they did to the first set of servants. Lastly, he sent his son, thinking they would accord respect to him, but they ceased him and throwing him out of the vineyard, they killed him.

Reacting to the hostile attitude of the tenants, the landowner exterminated their tenancy and even brought them to a tragic end and handed the vineyard to other tenants who would produce fruits and return the same to the landowner.

We shall be looking at the characteristics of the landowner and the tenants to enrich ourselves with appropriate lessons that would assist our Christian faith in this journey called life.

The Uncommon Landowner

The landowner is uncommon in every bit of the designation. Every landlord collects rent on agreed recurrent time. But this landowner wanted fruits from the vineyard as the rent, which would be after the harvest. Notice that he provided everything without cost. Furthermore, the landowner had planted vineyard already, the tenants had only one task, which is to harvest the fruits.

The landowner leaves us with some exceptional virtues. Apart from his kindness and generosity, the landowner was remarkably patient. Notice that he gave the tenants time to change their minds and redeem themselves after being hostile to the two sets of servants before sending his son.

Finally, we know that the landowner represents God, who is kind and merciful, slow to anger, but rich in love (Psalm 145:8). Furthermore, St. Peter tells us (2 Peter 3:9) that God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish but that everyone comes to repentance. But we cannot dismiss the justice of God as God repays us according to our deeds (Romans 2:6).

The Unfaithful Tenants

One would notice that the parable did not mention anything good about the tenants apart from occupying the vineyard space. They represent a group of people that lack even a grain of gratitude; they were proudly ungrateful, unreliable, and aggressive. Their non-compliance to the agreement to return the fruit of the harvest makes them unfaithful and careless tenants.

The tenants represent all of us. God brought us into the world to bear fruits. He gave us all the necessary machinery for productivity; the question we could ask ourselves is: “are we bearing fruits for the Lord?” How far do we go to keep to the promises we make to God?

Moving Forward: The Secret Key to Fruitful Tenancy

It would be gainful for us to inquire what made the tenants act in such a despicable manner towards the kind landowner. Interestingly, the positive side of that deficiency would also be the secret key to fruitfulness.

In the Gospel of John (15:5), our Lord Jesus Christ said: “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing”. The key here is relationship. The tenants were unproductive because they lacked the needed functional relationship with the landowner.

Like we pointed out earlier, we are all tenants in this world. It does not matter how long we live here on earth, there would always be an end to our tenancy, and we must show the fruits of our stay on earth. We need to build and maintain a productive relationship with God to bear fruits. Luckily, St. Paul gives us a clue how we can achieve this in the Second Reading (Phil. 4:6-9). He tells us to focus on: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise!

It is all about a personal relationship, and this what God demands from us as a loving Father. It is not enough to be called a Christian without having a profound connection with Jesus Christ. When our Lord said, without me, you can do nothing, he talked about a relationship that creates a bond. In John (15:4), our Lord said: “Remain in me as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine”.

Your tenancy ends when your life ends here on earth. You do not to be scared; you have the chance now to bear fruits leveraging your relationship with God. May God bless you and have a blessed weekend and a glorious week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.   

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