Fellow Passengers: This week’s Primary Passage* (Matthew 21:33-46) transports me to a back alley dumpster manufactured and maintained by Tony Soprano and family, where a building block trashed and dumped by a gang of Mafioso masons gets rescued by the Covenant Godfather. This rejected and rescued block becomes the treasured cornerstone for a new home for the Covenant Family. The story, set against the backdrop of a Verdicchio vineyard that produces more violence than it does bottles of Rosso or Bianco, reflects Matthew’s harsh critique of the Pharisee Family’s religio-political system, a system that had become a source of oppression and exploitation for those closest to the heart of the Godfather – the poor, the sick, the outcast.
The Covenant Godfather’s original blueprints for the Family was to build a movement, a movement contrary to anything the Sopranos or the Lucianos would ever dream of, designed to produce transforming love toward enemies, welcoming embrace of outsiders, generous provision for the poor, peace for the conflicted, faith for the fearful, and hope for the despairing. The Godfather sends some prophetic underlings to the vineyard time and again with a message that it’s time to harvest this produce, but each time the Pharisee’s version of Uncle Junior or one of his power-crazed thugs in control of the vineyard puts a hit out on the messenger and before you know it the prophetic courier gets whacked. It becomes a family war when the Lord of the Covenant Family sends his only Son to reap the fruits, and he gets iced. In my imagination I can hear the slow, deliberate, Marlon Brando-like voice of God, responding to the rejection of his Son and foretelling in Don Corleone-style what is about to go down: Mark my word. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and he on whom it falls will be crushed.
When Jesus publicly recited this scenario in high-drama fashion, it fairly well freaked out the Pharisee Family and they began looking for a way to rig his arrest, but they were afraid of repercussions from the rival mob surrounding the Messiah. Cue Henry Mancini for the musical score as Movie One comes to a conclusion, and the audience has to wait for the upcoming sequel to see what will happen to the Son in this family war. In the meantime, I’ll be doing my best to stay loyal to the Godfather. Maybe I’ll get an offer I can’t refuse.
How about you? Where does this Primary Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.