“A man laid out a vineyard ...”
With the image of the vineyard, the Old Testament prophets expressed the miracle that had come into the world with Israel: God and man work together to bring forth the fruit that “pleases man's heart”.
Criticism pointing out that actually only “sour berries” grow there, is directed towards Israel. But it also affects the Church, which rightly speaks of the “true vine”, which does not prevent a large portion of theology and practice of tasting like spoiled wine. But there are some who still have the taste on the tongue and don't give up the search for the good drop. mim
Let me now sing of my friend, my friend's song concerning his vineyard. My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press. Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes. Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard: What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? Now, I will let you know what I mean to do with my vineyard: take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled! Yes, I will make it a ruin: it shall not be pruned or hoed, but overgrown with thorns and briers; I will command the clouds not to send rain upon it. The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his cherished plant; he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!
The blind spot
The blind spot is the spot in the eye on which the exit point of the optic nerve is projected. Since there are no light receptors there is a blind spot. This knowledge has moved from biology to psychology. The prophets already had this knowledge about man as early as the 6th century BC, when they mentioned Israel's ‚blind spot‘:
“You say the Lord's behaviour is not right.” Guilt is repressed and projected onto the other. Israel has the Chuzpe, to blame God – and He even accepts this dispute. In defense of his own cause, He becomes an enlightener of justice and self-righteousness, of denial and repentance. acb
Thus says the LORD: You say, The LORD's way is not fair! Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Everything that is just
The following principle already applies since Aristotle: Just is what is proportionate, that is, the proportional correspondence of action and retribution, of effort and reward. The other justice, giving more than expected, is surprising.
In provocative stories such as todays, the Gospels depict Jesus' action as a manifestation of the intangible goodness of God, which has a different goal: to gather the most varied persons in the vineyard, not to evaluate them in terms of effort. Most of all, the pious ones are annoyed by this. They are enviously comparing and thus losing the joy of effort and reward. By unmasking the wrong view towards God and the others, the parable seeks agreement to the new measure, the gathering of Israel. hak
Jesus told his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just. So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, Why do you stand here idle all day? They answered, 'Because no one has hired us. He said to them, You too go into my vineyard. When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first. When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat. He said to one of them in reply, My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?
‚No tinc por‘ – Have no fear
“Everyone lives for themselves and everyone dies for themselves,” says the attitude of many contemporaries at demure moments. For those who belong to the Lord their living and dying are no longer their problem.
At the Sinai, Israel hears the word of God: “The whole earth belongs to me, but you should belong to me as a holy people.” This is the antithesis to the ‚mortal fright‘ for one's life. Because, based on this demand, Israel is developing the awareness of asking fearlessly what is right in any situation. Thus a great collection of examples emerges, putting in concrete terms what ‚godly‘ means. Again and again this was misunderstood as a religion of laws, and yet it gave Israel freedom and security in all imaginable circumstances. For the scribe Paul, this creative freedom of Israel is embodied in Jesus' life and death. He reminds the church in Rome: “Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” mim
Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Freedom to do the wrong
Only because there is truth as a measurement, distinction is possible. The entire biblical history of salvation and mischief is a struggle for this prophetic distinction. For truth is not revealed in theses and theories, but in the complicated human conditions.
Its measurement needs to be recognized and named, because in principle, people want to be left alone, and don't want to know the consequences of their actions. The ungrateful responsibility of the prophets and the prophetic people consists in standing in for the truth despite this unwillingness. Just the prophetic warning opens up to the people, in their beloved state of ignorance, the freedom to do the wrong, or to repent. tac
Thus says the Lord You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die”, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.
About Christian logic
“Revaluing all values” is a catch phrase that hardly anyone would connect with Christianity. And yet, in his letter to the community in Rome, Paul is radically transforming central terms:
“sacrifice” – for the religious person this is a slaughtered animal, for Paul it is the man who lives in the community and helps establishing it. “Worship” – according to the general understanding, a gathering with prayer and singing, for the apostle it means rational handling of the concrete details in the life of the individual and the community: social and economic questions, illness and death, education of the children and care of the elderly, reception of guests and introduction to the common life, consideration for the weaknesses of others and learning from mistakes. In this “logical worship”, no piece of the world must be missing, and yet everything follows a different measure. mim
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Also, to get into God’s new world a password is necessary. The keyword for the Kingdom of Heaven had Petrus: “You are the Messiah.” Even when this word was not so clear in the Jewish conception:
It is always about the people of Israel, about their reform and regathering. This is the ground, the rock on which the church of Jesus is settled: the choice of God, who entailed his mission on a small people. If Christians believe to be a participant of this mission, it can only happen with this keyword: through a Jew and with the participation in the history of his people. According to Matthew, everything is decided by this. acb
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? They replied, Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter said in reply, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said to him in reply, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Who needs help
Concentration on the new gathering of Israel and the care for all are by no means contrary for Jesus, not even a temporal succession. When he, the Jew, meets the non-Jewish woman, a surprising thing happens:
She accepts the mission of Jesus for Israel, even takes up his argument, but turns it unconcernedly to a convincing argument for her request for help. Such imperturbable trust turns her closer to the great believers of Israel, like Abraham. It is especially her who is helping all those who are called, to recognize their calling, what to want and what to do. hak
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus' disciples came and asked him, Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us. He said in reply, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me. He said in reply, It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs. She said, Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus said to her in reply, O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish. And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.
The same – but very different
After a long, grueling fight against the false gods, the prophet Elijah returns resigned to Horeb and doesn't want to live anymore longer. He stands on the mountain, where Israel's history began, like Moses, when he received the Torah. And again: Thunderstorm, lightning, thunder and earthquake. But this time the storm is just a storm, the earthquake is just an earthquake, the fire is just a fire — normal weather phenomena. The voice of God is not hearable there. But how was this voice hearable at all?
How did it sound when God spoke to Elijah? The biblical author merely adumbraits it; in the congenial translation of Martin Buber: “a voice of floating silence”. The loud, combative prophet had to listen carefully, yes, he even had to ignore his own disappointment. Perhaps his hearing was the same as the hearing of Mary, of which was said, “she put everything in her heart together.” mim
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the Lord said to him, Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by. A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
On the mountain, three already completely transfigured characters meet, and three further characters who are anxiously astonished at first: Moses, Elijah, Jesus and John, James, Peter. All six are affiliated by the determination to hear the „voice from the cloud“.
All six follow this voice and come upon a path of suffering and great signs. There is a continuity that connects heaven and earth: from the prophetic to the Messianic to the apostolic and the Petrine. A single way of „succession“ of people who want to listen to the cloud and build huts on earth. Thereby the humanly impossible comes among men. tac
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, Rise, and do not be afraid. And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.