Today’s Gospel story (Matthew 21:33-43) is both sad and a forewarning. First comes the sadly distressing part. Even though so many of us (who call ourselves ‘Christian’) have “found the treasure” – the Messiah, many more who were the originally ‘chosen’ people have rejected him because he did not meet their political expectations. These later people recognise that Jesus was a Jew, but despite the evidence they deny his Resurrection from the dead; they deny that he is the Messiah; and they deny that he is the Son of God, the only faithful and true Israelite who could represent his people and save them.
The second part or “forewarning” is implied in the story. Since so many Israelites did not bear fruit (i.e., respond appropriately to their Call to be the light to the Gentiles), the “vineyard” was turned over to others: to a "remnant" of believing Jews, and to Gentiles who would indeed “bear fruit” and harvest the kingdom of God. However, the responsibility to bear fruit, to bring others to the Truth by acting as the light of Christ to the world, will always remain an important challenge for Christians. If we become lax and our light goes out, then we will be in no better position than the first group who did not believe. In fact, we will be in a worse dilemma, because we believed but stopped acting on that belief.
The Call of the Israelites was to be a light to All the Nations. It was not a gift to be hoarded by them, producing a sense of superiority over others. Instead, it was a call to be a Servant for others. Now that same call is made on you and me, to be a beacon for Christ. Are you helping to build up the Body of Christ by your thoughts, words, deeds and prayers? Can you see how inactivity on your part might lead to your own personal loss of the vineyard, and consequently the same awesome judgment from the owner?
The vineyard was “planted” by God, and the True Vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the “branches” (those who believe in Him). Without the life from the True Vine, we can do nothing. The message for each of us is to pray that God’s light and truth will find its way into every heart in the world!
Also see article #755 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.