November 30 – Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week after Pentecost (11th of Luke) Luke 20:9-18
Love and Hate: Luke 20:9-18, especially vss. 15-16: “Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” The Lord Jesus’ final days in
Jerusalem come to an end with His arrest, trial, Passion, and Resurrection. For the Jews, the people of God who
are His ancient “vineyard,” those days mark the defining moment of their relationship with the Lord – a time of
incalculable love and vitriolic hate. To help us plumb the essence of this love and hate, our gracious God and
Savior speaks to us through the Parable of the Vinedressers.
During those epic days our Lord, true to His nature, demonstrates a depth and breadth of love
unimaginable to angels and men. The response of the ancient people of God to this Love incarnate is not uniform.
Some in ancient Israel truly love the Lord and make every effort to follow Him as best they are able. Love rouses
them to love in return and, by the grace of God, they discern “the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). They “come to
believe and know that [He is] the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vs. 69).
These believers – the Jews who form the core of the New Israel, the Church – in turn give us the Lord’s
words of life. They understand how “blessed [is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to
His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
(1 Pt 1:3).
At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who refuse to receive the Lord – those Jews who do not
have the word of God abiding in them. The Lord Jesus warns, “I know you, that you do not have the love of God
in you” (Jn 5:42). Worst of all, “You seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you” (vs. 8:37). He
identifies the origin of this hatred, which comes straight from hell – “You are of your father the devil, and the
desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth,
because there is no truth in him” (vs. 44) – in the Parable of the Vinedressers.
The New Israel, which includes the believers in Christ of our present age, knows all too well what
venomous hatred looks like. We have witnessed burning hatred turned against Christians and murderously poured
out on the Church in Russia and elsewhere. Likewise, we have seen Satan’s terrible hate unleashed against the
descendants of the ancient people of God. The devil still promotes hatred in any heart that will grant him entrance.
And yet at the same time we are blessed to know the incredible God of love, as did the earliest believers.
Let us ever say, “Thanks be to God,” for the love of God prevails over hatred and the martyrs of our time still
triumph over the ancient foe.
The Parable of the Vinedressers does not promote anti-Semitism, for such sentiments are iniquitous and
draw upon the hatred of the devil. Rather, the parable warns us to root all hatred from our hearts. The Lord takes
the vineyard away from the ancient people of God and gives it to the New Israel. We are those others to whom
the Lord gives charge of His vineyard (Lk 20:16). For this reason the bishop says, “O God of hosts, return again;
and look down from heaven and behold, and visit this vine, and perfect that which Thy right hand hath planted”
The Lord our God is truly the cornerstone of love (Lk 20:17). Saint Cyril of Alexandria proclaims: “Now
the sacred Scripture compares to a cornerstone the gathering together, or joining of the two people, Israel I mean,
and the gentiles, in sameness of sentiment and faith” (Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke 134, p. 534). The
Church, both ancient and modern, is joined to God in love in order that we may overcome all hatred.
The Savior who planted the vineyard and calls His laborers is near. Come, let us receive our hire; for the
Giver is rich, loving, and merciful, even to those who have labored little. –Vespers for the Fourth Sunday in Lent