For these couple of days, daily readings in large chunks will help us be on track for the stories of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. The teachings of Jesus in Jerusalem seem to be a sort of last-ditch effort on his part, to enlighten the religious elite, to reassure the faithful, and to prophecy of the coming promised Kingdom. By the time Jesus is arrested, those listening--whether willingly or menacingly--have been instructed, encouraged, and warned.
Today's reading incorporates a straightforward question of Jesus' authority, a relatively obvious parable about the murderous behavior of the tenants left in charge (obvious enough that the real-life subjects were furious about it!), the issue of taxes and earthly authority, and even the question of marriage in the afterlife. Grouping them into a single reflection feels a bit like a preschool puzzle: what do these things have in common?
They have God in common. God, the ultimate Teacher, who does not condescend to the human demand for proofs and resumes. The Vineyard Owner, whose servants have been mistreated and whose Heir will be killed. The Source of Power, who has no need of Caesar's riches or Caesar's earth-bound might. The Author of relationships, the God of eternal Love, and always the I AM of the living... in fact, the Maker of life.
They have in common the one true Authority: Teacher, Owner, Source, Author, Maker, I AM.
As Jesus walks his last days in the holy city, let us be faithful students, learning well the lessons of honor he teaches. Let us be responsible citizens of the coming Kingdom, encouraged that we need not confuse worldly powers with the eternal. And let us be watchful seekers, heeding his warnings that preparedness is vital. God's day is coming: when all teachings will be made clear, when the rejected Cornerstone will be exalted, when Love itself will live.