First Reading: Tobit 1:3; 2:1-8
I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life, and I performed many acts of charity to my brethren and countrymen who went with me into the land of the Assyrians, to Nineveh. When I arrived home and my wife Anna and my son Tobias were restored to me, at the feast of Pentecost, which is the sacred festival of the seven weeks, a good dinner was prepared for me and I sat down to eat. Upon seeing the abundance of food I said to my son, “Go and bring whatever poor man of our brethren you may find who is mindful of the Lord, and I will wait for you.” But he came back and said, “Father, one of our people has been strangled and thrown into the market place.” So before I tasted anything I sprang up and removed the body to a place of shelter until sunset. And when I returned I washed myself and ate my food in sorrow. Then I remembered the prophecy of Amos, how he said, “Your feasts shall be turned into mourning, and all your festivities into lamentation.” And I wept. When the sun had set I went and dug a grave and buried the body. And my neighbors laughed at me and said, “He is no longer afraid that he will be put to death for doing this; he once ran away, and here he is burying the dead again!”
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 112:1-6
Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! His descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house; and his righteousness endures for ever. Light rises in the darkness for the upright; the LORD is gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals generously and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered for ever. And he began to speak to them in parables.
Gospel: Mark 12: 1-12
“A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some 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.’ And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What 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 very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” And they tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away.
This parable is so sad. It makes my heart ache. When I read it or hear it, by the time we get to the part where the son is killed, I just want to shut my eyes and close my ears and ignore that crescendo of pain that’s coming. Don’t do it! Don’t kill the SON! You’re gonna lose it all.
My mind floats to every argument I’ve had with my close siblings or husband. Why are we rudest to those closest to us? Why do we think we can unleash our malice and hurt on they who have proven, through thick and thin, that they love us? As I’m allowing my temper (slow to ignite, but a mean burn when it does) to feed off my pampered indignation, I hear in my mind don’t say this. Don’t go there. You’re gonna regret that. And most times, in my infantile tantrum, I just don’t care. I let the emotion run roughshod over the reason. I’m petty. I’m careless. I’m harsh with my words.
The other day we were driving in the mommyvan and my three year old daughter wanted the green chew toy that my almost five year old had in hand-captivity. The scuffle amongst their side-by-side carseats was enough to drive the Blessed Mother to shouting (or almost). Just as I called out for peace and calm, my daughter wrenched it out of my son’s hands and whole-heartedly flung it into the way back. No fetching that. No recovering that. Gone. She let out a primal yelp when she did it. After tensions had cooled, and I coached them through processing how these things happen and why it’s rotten to lose your temper, I realized, this is me.
Tree not too far from the apple. We’re the tenants in the vineyard, ready to unleash and yelp and be wretched. We can justify anything through our emotional lens. Before we become like the first round of tenants, look deep within and ask do I want to treat God and the ones I love this way? Me? I really do not.
Think even while you’re feeling. Listen to that cautioning voice within. Don’t kill the Son.
Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.