Pentecost + 16 - Year A
Parable upon parable reflects the facets of what it means to do business with one another in a framework of community. Economic models are often used in parables to break open our captivity by whatever economic model is currently idolatrized.
Here in Wisconsin we are sensitive to the landowner being too easily identified with the current reigning governance by governmental privatizers for the gain of corporate profit that reaps rewards without concomitant responsibility for sustainability. A union of “slaves” is unacceptable to entitled plutocrats.
This week’s hardened landowner (religious leaders), expecting their due reward for investments made (purity kept), might be seen as the stone upon which people have broken themselves for generation upon generation - the unearned profit, the individualized profit, the prideful profit not recognizing it is a product of exploitation of others rather than the strength of one pulling on their own bootstraps while never rising.
And so an alternative reading of this raises the question of what is rejected. Remember the judgment or interpretation rendered by chief religious leaders was “Death to Unions”. Might this attitude be what is rejected.
An inequitable economic system and religious leaders might be seen as the stones rejected by last week’s generous landowner.
Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders who were stonily crushing those outside their inner leadership. Those who live by the stone will die by the stone. Let those with ears, hear. Awareness of this brokenness just might be a worthy cornerstone to build differently. A non-physical cornerstone may be the most helpful.
Rejection of profit and slaves as a cornerstone leads to a new framework of being in an endeavor together - Unions might be a renewed cornerstone in today’s attempt to use globalization to increase the number of “slaves” available to landowners.