Bad tenants

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Whoever has children has surely heard the words: “That’s mine! That’s mine”, and was most probably called up to act as judge and give a verdict! However, this may not be just a children’s attitude. Today’s parable warns about attachment and ownership. Have we ever, embraced an attitude of self-sufficiency, saying ‘this is my life, I make my own decisions?’

Our life is a gift from God and at the end we have to answer for the decisions made. As Christians, our decisions are to be made in the light of the Word of God. The tenants believed that since they had worked the fields, they had a right to the produce. They no longer recognised the person who had hired them as the rightful owner. Yet the landowner was merciful. He sent a number of people at different times to try and make them realise their mistake. Nevertheless, they had become selfish, and they beat and killed the servants sent. They also killed the landowner’s son.

God is like the landowner. He gave us our life as a gift. He gave us all the creation as a gift, he even gifted us with a family. He made us overseers of all creation. He did not leave us alone. In the parable, Jesus says that the landowner sent his servants and his son as eye-openers. God sends others to help us too. He gives us help to become better persons. We have the Bible, priests, spiritual directors and catechists to show us the way, they are there to help us. Other ways are also available to us, and these also help us to evaluate if we are living according to God’s will. Are we accepting the help given to us or are we behaving like the tenants, reasoning that life is ours and that we can decide how we want it to be without any reference to God?

The cornerstone is mentioned in today’s gospel. The cornerstone plays an important part in construction. It is not an embellishment! It is part of the foundation and if removed, the building will collapse. Jesus likens himself to this cornerstone. We should keep Jesus as the foundation on which we build our lives. Jesus is a ‘sure foundation’ (Isaiah 28, 16).

A reading from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 21, 33-43)

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.  Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.

When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.  But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned.  Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. 

Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.  What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “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.”

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” 

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel story is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and why?
  3. Listen to Cornerstone.
  4. Do your decisions reflect the Church’s teachings?
  5. Do you hold Jesus as a model when choosing between what is right and what is wrong?
  6. Together with your family find the right time to read this gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare:
    a) The Bible reading from St Matthew (21, 33-43)
    b) A lit candle
    c) Cover the table with green cloth
    d) A computer/laptop with the reading and clips
  7. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested)
  8. Feel free to adapt to your situation.
  9. Be creative 😊
  10. Go to the Prayer Corner section to continue praying as a family.

Jesus is going to tell us another parable. Jesus really liked to tell stories! Today’s parable is about a vineyard owner. Do you remember what we had said about the vineyard? (it is a field where grapes grow). He could not continue to take care of his field, so he found others to take care of it. Yet these were not good people and they wanted to keep all the grapes for themselves without giving nothing to the owner!

We will learn that:

  • God created the earth;
  • God wants us to take care of all creation.

We need:

  • A printout of the colouring pages
  • Optional: other pictures as mentioned below

Today’s parable speaks about a man who had a vineyard. He really took care of his field. But then, he had to go away, so he found others to continue working in the field. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants for the grapes, but the tenants, did not want to give him any! They wanted to keep all the grapes for themselves, even though they were not theirs to keep. It is like when you go for a picnic. You take your fooball with you so that you can play. Your cousins want to play with the ball, and you give it to them. You do not go to play with them because you are eating a piece of bread. When you finish eating you go to play with them. But they do not want you to play! Do you think that that is right? It is your ball and they are not letting you play!

Do you know that God has lent us a lot of things? God has created everything. And all creation is his. But he has given us all creation to use and take care of it.
Can you name some things which God has created?
How can we take care of the things God created?
God created water. How can we take care of the water?
God created animals. How can we take care of the animals?
God created the plants and the trees. How can we take care of them?
God created us. How can we take care of each other?

Sometimes, however we forget to take care of creation. For example, paper is made from trees. When we waste paper, we will not be caring for the trees. We should not waste electricity either. So, when we leave the electricity on when we leave a room, we are wasting electricity. The world has enough food for everyone. But in the world, there are people who like the tenants of the parable, want to keep everything for themselves. It is true that we do not produce the food ourselves, but we should not waste food. So, when we are going to eat, on our plates we should take the right amount, the amount that we know we will eat. If we leave food on our plates, it will be thrown away and wasted.

Do you know why someone writes a letter? Do you know that Pope Francis sometimes writes us letters?

One of these letters is called Laudato Sì (Praise be to you), and the Pope tells us how we can take care of creation. Watch this clip together (parents/adults may need to explain it to the little ones).

In today’s activity we will be colouring some pictures. When you are ready, put them in different places, so that during this week, they will remind you to take care of God’s creation.

(Note to parents/adults: you may find other pictures for the children to colour and which show how they can care for creation. You may download these from the internet and put them in places where they are easily seen, to remind all the family of their responsibility. Family members should remind each other about caring for God’s creation so that together we can build a better world).

Sign of the cross.

Thank you, God, for all creation. We pray for all governments so that they make laws to protect all of creation. Jesus please help us to take care of the environment and also to take care of each other. Amen.

As in previous weeks, go to the Prayer Corner section to understand the Gospel better.

Today’s parable is about a man who had a vineyard. He took great care of it. But then he had to go away so he found people to work in his field. When the grapes were ripe, the landowner sent his servants to bring the grapes. But the tenant wanted to keep all the grapes for themselves. They did not want to give the owner any of them!

We will learn that God gives us many beautiful qualities so that through them we may help others and love them.

We need:

  • Nine pebbles
  • Felt pens

In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the fruit. He says “When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.” This landowner is like God. God gave us the ability to grow and produce ‘fruit’. Not fruit like grapes, banana, apples and oranges! Our fruits are all our good deeds. Just like the fruit salad is made up of many different fruits, there are many good deeds we can make and through them we show that we love God and others.

Can you mention some good things we can do? (Allow the children to speak first, afterwards, the adults can also give their own examples)

Do you know that with our talents, we can show others that we love them?

What are your talents? (talents are good qualities each of us has, they also include abilities like singing, drawing, dancing, playing a musical instrument. We can use these to make others happy). Every time we love others, or make a good deed, we will be producing ‘fruit’.

In one of this letters, to the Galatians, St Paul mentions the ‘fruit’ which may form part of our character. These are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We will say something about each. Which of these fruits describe you, and which do not?

When we love others we are ready to make sacrifices to be able to help them.

The joy which we receive from God does not depend on the material things we have. Joy is like being very, very happy, it is being happy inside even when things are not so great.  It depends on our relationship with God. When we trust God we will be happy.

When we think of peace, we usually think of no more fighting or war.  But the peace we are speaking of is the peace we get when we know God really well. If we have this peace we will feel a calmness inside.

Have you ever been told that you are impatient? Patience is waiting our turn in the queue, it is waiting for Christmas to receive the gift we want. Patience is also waiting for our prayers to be answered. St Monica, prayed for many, many years for her son to learn to love God. After many years, her prayers were answered. St Monica was very patient, she continued to pray.

I should not help others because I pity them. When I am kind to others, I help them because I want their lives to be better. It is not always easy to be kind, especially to those who are unkind to us.

To be good means to be honest, to make the right choices and to be sorry for your sins.

Being faithful is keeping your promises, being a loyal friend even when times get tough, being trustworthy and doing the things you said you would do. 

Are we gentle with others? Sometimes we are very gentle in our manners with friends, but then we are not with members of our own family!

Did someone ever tell us that we get angry too quickly! When we lose our temper quickly it shows that we do not have self-control. A person who has self-control is calm, this person can do things in their own good time.

On each pebble, write one among the fruits we have mentioned. Every week choose one. Place it somewhere where it can be seen by all the family. During the week everyone tries to live this virtue. As a family make time to share what each is doing. If everyone takes up this challenge, the family will surely be transformed.

Whilst writing on the pebbles listen to Fruit of the Spirit.

Sign of the cross.

Thank you, Jesus, for all these beautiful qualities and talents you have given us. Do not let us keep them for ourselves. Help us to share them with others. Amen.

As in previous weeks, go to the Prayer Corner section to understand the Gospel better.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.