Missing the obvious

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2 March 2018

In 1876 the President of a telegraph company rejected the idea of a young man because “while it is a very interesting novelty, we have concluded that it has no commercial possibilities.” The inventor was Alexander Graham Bell and his device; the telephone.

Stories abound of rejected authors; JK Rowling (Harry Potter) declined by 12 publishers, similarly for Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Agatha Christie, John Grisham and Rudyard -“doesn’t know how to use the English language” – Kipling. Imagine being the person who in 1962 refused the Beatles a record contract. Looking a gift horse in the mouth is a common pastime it seems.

In the first reading Joseph is rejected by his brothers but as we will see ultimately will be their salvation and that of the people of God. In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells another story of rejection. But as usual, there is more going on that we first notice.

In the story the landowner has gone to great lengths to prepare the site, fencing it, digging a wine press and building a tower. The tenants are not ignorant; they would have been able vinedressers. They know the effort that has gone into preparing the vineyard and the responsibilities for its care. Even worse are another group at the end of the parable; the stone masons who cannot see the keystone in front of them.

And yet God is not mocked.

With any of Jesus’ parables, we can simply mentally nod and agree at the stupidity and caprice of the subjects, or we can ask the Lord to show us how He is speaking to us. Joseph’s father Jacob declared “God was in this place and I did not know it?” (Genesis 28:16). Is there any way I might be missing what He is saying to me? Am I rejecting Him as the tenants did?

So this Lent may we be good tenants of the vineyard that He gives each of us and may we always listen to Him when He speaks.

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