04Jun 04th June. Monday of the 9th Week

2 Pet 1:2ff. God has freely bestowed on us all we need to live well. We become sharers of the divine nature.

Mark 12:1ff. The wicked tenants kill the vineyard-owner’s son;they are punished, and the vineyard given to others.

 

Surviving Abroad

The second letter of Peter was one of the last books of the New Testament to be composed. The author takes up a question which the apostle Peter never had to face: will the glorious second coming of Jesus be delayed indefinitely? It seems that once the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and later unleashed violent persecution against the Christians, yet Jesus did not return as victorious Messiah, some Christians felt betrayed by their new religion, and lost in a quagmire of doubt. The apostle Peter had already been martyred in A.D. 65 or 66. The inspired author of this epistle placed his writing within the setting of Peter’s lifetime, and drew on the earliest Christian traditions and the lifetime of Jesus, now seven decades past, in order to insist on the continuity of past and future, from God’s majestic presence then to God’s supportive presence now.

The gospel anticipates just this kind of problem. The owner of the vineyard seems to have vanished, so the tenant farmers can live recklessly, even killing the owner’s son to seize total control of the property. When Jesus first spoke this parable, he had in mind the puzzling but familiar text: “The stone rejected by the builders has become the keystone of the structure.” This passage states that God will always be faithful and will choose even the least likely person or the abandoned talent, and turn it into the keystone of the new life. Christians later reinterpreted this text to announce God’s transfer of his ancient promises to the gentile world after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in A.D. 66-70.

Second Peter instructs us further in ethics as it links the virtues of piety, self-control, perseverance, faith and care for one’s neighbour. The gospel holds the fundamentally optimistic message that on the foundation of the least likely part of our character, God will build our peaceful home on earth and our eternal dwelling hereafter.

 

First Reading 2 Peter 1:2-7

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.

 

Gospel: Mark 12:1-12

Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.