In 1962, when President John F. Kennedy was visiting the NASA Space center, he noticed a janitor sweeping the hallway and asked him, “What do you do around here?” To his surprise, the janitor replied, “Well, Mr. President, I’m helping to put a man on the moon.” This janitor found meaning in seeing himself as someone who was playing a role in the grand vision of sending a person to the moon.
The meaning of life is to give life meaning.
In one word, what do you live for?
The answer to this question will tell you where you find meaning in your life; it cannot be a borrowed answer. Jesus? Or Mary? who brings us to Jesus. We live it out in the ordinary completion of the daily tasks in our vocation and mission; as tenants or stewards, we are entrusted.
vs. work, eat, sleep, repeat.
Notice in the story of the Wicked Servants, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his share of the produce, but the wicked tenants killed them and were thus «wretched men [heading] to a wretched death.”
As people become more and more comfortable materially, the more they hopefully realize that material things alone fail to meet their deeper needs of a personal, intrinsic motivation and a deeper meaning in their lives.
The tenants in the parable can mistreat and even kill some of the messengers only if the owner of the vineyard is living abroad. God can seem out of sight and out of mind. However, each of us will be judged and rewarded immediately after death in accordance with our works and what we did and our faith (Catechism 1021), which is called the Particular Judgment (1022). Culpable rejection of him is disastrous in that one loses participation in God’s Kingdom.
Relationships are the ocean in which we find meaning. Multiple studies suggest that many people rank their relationships as the most meaningful part of their lives, even when those relationships are difficult or strained.
In the First Reading, the complaint was with the grapes, they were too sour to be eaten or made into wine despite the favorable conditions (Isaiah 5:1-7). In the Gospel, the vineyard produces a healthy crop, despite morally corrupt overseers.
If something feels not right to us, it’s because some part of what is occurring violates a deeply held value. To live a more meaningful life, are we true to our deepest values? Faithfulness, loyalty, honesty, gratitude, etc.
The arrival of the son allows the tenants to assume that the vineyard owner is dead, and that the son has come to take up his inheritance. If they take him out of the vineyard and kill him, which is a reference to Jesus being taken outside the city of Jerusalem to be crucified, the vineyard becomes ownerless property which they can then claim based on their physically being there. Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law.
Desmond Tutu expanding on Fyodor Dostoyevsky said:
“Suffering is part and parcel of the human condition, but suffering can either embitter or ennoble us. It can ennoble us and become a spirituality of transformation when we find meaning in it.”
Many people looking back on their lives, realized that they have learned most, not from their successes, but from their experiences of failure and loss, and even of rejection.
There is a man hanging on a cross who says to us, “I saw so much potential in you that I gave up my life for you so that you might live.”
Be stewards who produce good grapes for the Lord.