Today, we hear a parable that Jesus addresses to the elders of the Temple and the Pharisees. This parable portrays a situation that was well known to those living in ancient Israel, of absentee land owners living outside the area. Traditionally in our modern era and in much of church history, we have interpreted this parable in an allegorical sense, in which God is seen as the landowner and Jesus is seen as the son. This interpretation makes sense to us in the light of our faith, in the light of Jesus' death and resurrection, and in the way he was rejected by most of ancient Israel.
However, we can also see this parable as a true-to-life description of a peasant uprising against an oppressive landowner. In this view of the parable, we would be forced to examine our attitudes toward the use of violence in the context of landowners, inheritance, and the oppression of the poor. This parable portrays the futility of violence and demands a more productive and peaceful response to the problem of oppression. It makes us think of the non-violent, direct action responses to our contemporary situations of exploitation and oppression.
The kingdom of God will be given to the people who will bear much fruit. By calling ourselves followers of Jesus, how are we bearing fruit in our lives? How are we working toward justice and peace in our own communities and in the world in general? How are we working against oppression and violence? Are we working toward opening the kingdom of God to all on earth, not seeing it as a kingdom that is reserved only for a privileged few? We can help build the Kingdom of God here by extending ourselves in love, respect and solidarity, by making the ideals of the kingdom of God more of a reality in the world rather than just a lofty vision.