In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ in today’s Gospel we hear the parable of the husbandmen which ends with a verse from the Psalms “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:23)
Christ when He quotes this verse from the Psalms explains the parable in terms of salvation history.
The parable begins with a man creating a vineyard with a hedge around it, a wine press and a tower. He then lends it out to husbandmen and goes off to a far country.
The man in this story is God the creator of heaven and earth.
The vineyard signifies the Israelite people whom God has chosen to be the bears of salvation to all of humanity.
The hedge around the vineyard is the law of God.
The wine press is the promised Messiah.
The tower signifies the Temple which is a precursor of the Church.
The husbandmen are the leaders of the people, the priests and the teachers.
How can the land owner, God, go off into a far country? What this is telling us is that God gives us our free will to work out our salvation. It also tells us that God is patient with us in our sins so that we might come to repentance.
We then hear how the husband men treated the servants of the land owner. They killed and stoned them when they came to receive the fruits of the vineyard.
These servants were the prophets who came to the people of Israel to remind them of the fruits that flow from following the Law of God. In turn the leaders of the people had the prophets killed.
The parable then says that the land owner sends his son to the husbandmen because they will reverence him. Thus, as it says in Galatians “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son.” (Galatians 4:4)
God knew before hand that the leaders of the people would not hesitate to treat His Son in the same manner as the prophets. Saint Nikolaj Velimirovic says that He did this to shame us by showing us our ingratitude to God for all of the wonders He has given us.
The parable then goes on to say how the husbandmen take the son out of the vineyard and kill him. Our Lord here is foretelling of His death on the cross outside of Jerusalem.
The Lord when He finishes the parable what should be done to the husbandmen. They say that that they should be cast out of the vineyard and replaced. In doing so with their words they pronounce judgment on themselves. They understand legalistic justice as many of us do. However the ways of God are different this is why our Lord says “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:23) to conclude this passage.
What our Lord is saying is that He is the corner stone between the Old and New covenants. Through this He says that God is patient with us in our sins but that we must repent of our sins to experience His love for us. We must remember that God will judge us. We are reminded of the power of judgment of this stone, Christ, when our Lord said “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”
So my dear brothers and sisters in Christ the message of today’s Gospel is repent. Do not put off repentance because you know neither the day or the hour that the master is coming just as the husband men in today’s Gospel do not know the day or the hour that the landowner will come and cast them out and replace them with other servants. Repent because you do not know how long God will patiently endure your assaults against Him through the sins you commit.
Delivered by Fr. Milan Medakovic at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost 2009.