The stone that the builders rejected

The Gospel Reading for Mass for Friday of the Second Week of Lent is an interesting one if it is applied to alcohol recovery through Catholicism.

Matthew 21:33-43,45-46: “Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
‘Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?’
They answered him,
He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.’
Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.’
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.”

(Via USCCB.)

Using metaphor, the vineyard can be likened to your life; the servants sent by the landowner can be grouped together and assigned the collective role of you, as the practicing alcoholic. The tenants who keep beating and killing the servants might be the symbols for alcoholism, as it sits in wait and repeatedly tries to kill you as you try to live a life.

The son of the landowner, who is finally sent to reclaim the vineyard, can also be you, still the alcoholic. But what makes the metaphor for “this” you different from the one for the servants who were waylaid and killed by the tenants?

The Scriptural passage indicates that the son was Jesus, and the Pharisees knew that the parable was about them. The servants were the prophets who were killed over the centuries by Israelite leaders, the precursors to the Pharisees who were symbolized by the tenants in the parable. The vineyard is the inheritance of being God’s “chosen”.

And so the son, who intends to vanquish the tenants and reclaim the vineyard, can be the metaphor for you, the person now in recovery. You, with the help of a “Higher Power” (all right, God the Holy Spirit and Jesus, the Son, working their mysterious ways) are working to defeat the addiction and live a newly sober life.

Will the tenants be successful? Will they drag you away and kill you like they did the son in the parable? Or will you persevere and survive?

Even if you fall, you can still take a cue from the parable. Jesus rose from the dead. He was the “cornerstone the builders rejected”; the Messiah the Jews didn’t believe in. You can take your failure and build on it. Call it “experience”, learn what didn’t work and take on the tenants again. (They will always be around.)

Alone, you cannot defeat alcoholism. Rare is the person who does. With Jesus you can accomplish anything. He is the Divine Physician, ready and able to help.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"