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applied to the other interpretations, of the altar, the prophets and the like. Perhaps the tower may be explained with Origen and Chrysostom, to signify the temple in which God dwelt among His people. But St. Hilary takes it as the Law, and beautifully adds, 'which goeth forth from earth and advanceth to heaven; and from which, as from a watchtower, the coming of Christ might be discerned.' . St. Chrysostom explains the going into a far country, as implying the long-suffering of God in waiting for the fruits. Perhaps indeed the absence of the Lord, and His going away may, on this and other occasions, be the description of Him who, being ever near and able to punish, yet bears long, and is as if He were away, leaving men to their own free will to choose that which is good. Our Lord we know, in like manner, in the probation of Christians, speaks of Himself as having gone away, and His absence as appearing long to the slothful servant, who says, My Lord delayeth His coming; not considering that the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but is long-suffering to usward."
"That the vineyard should possess a wine-press would be a matter of course. Not less needful would be the tower, by which we understand a place of shelter for the watch
man who should guard the fruits of the vineyard.” And Swete: “The first slave is let
after his beating, but without that which he had come for, empty-handed. . . . The second met with worse usage. He was not put to death-the fate of the one who followed him-but grossly insulted by being knocked about the head, in this and other ways they heaped contumely upon him. From insult the husbandmen proceeded on the next occasion to murder; and so matters went on for a long time, each servant who was sent suffering death or maltreatment at their hands.”
Plummer also: "The uniform hostility of the Jewish kings, priests, and people to the prophets, is one of the most remarkable features in their history. The amount of hostility varied, and it expressed itself in different ways, on the whole increasing in intensity; but it was always there. Deeply as the Jews lamented the cessation of prophets after the death of Malachi, they generally opposed them, as long as they were granted to them. Till the gift was withdrawn they seem to have had little pride in this exceptional grace shown to the nation, and little appreciation of it or thankfulness for it. And seeing that each generation acted in the same
way, the parable is true to fact in representing this uniform hostility as the action of the same set of husbandmen."
First Thought.—One might well look for wonderful things from our Lord's Church in the world. If the old Hebrew Church' was His vineyard, how much more the Catholic Body of Christ! She has been set up in the world as His own, to glorify Him, to yield the rich wine of grace. How carefully He has established her.
1. An hedge set about her. Men do not like to admit her exclusiveness. Yet He will not have His followers to be of the world albeit they must sojourn for awhile in the world. They are to come out from among men and to be separate. It is certain that He hedged His Church about in the earliest days, but now men say the hedge has grown too much, and that Catholics claim an exclusiveness for their religion which He never intended. We are not to forget that the Church has been hedged in not to exclude humble seekers after God's good things from the treasures of divine grace, but only to protect the faithful from the assaults of enemies of the faith: because those enemies multiply, the hedge must be heightened.
2. He digged a place for the winefat, that is,
He made His Church to be a great reservoir of the divine grace, where the loyal children of God may always find supernatural grace in inexhaustible abundance. She is able to supply that heavenly help which cannot be had outside her precincts.
3. He also built a tower where He required ceaseless watchfulness on the part of the children of God, for this alone can render them secure in their celestial inheritance. So the Master cried, "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
4. He let His vineyard out to husbandmen, and Himself went into a far country. Men are fain sometimes to find fault with the human element in the Church. We are not to forget that the Master expressly entrusted the government of His kingdom here upon earth to His Apostles, and they to their successors the bishops. Whatever the imperfections of the Church's rulers, they are Christ's own agents and representatives, holding His authority to rule, to teach, to offer sacrifice, and to dispense grace. He has gone into a far country, that is, heaven, which is far from us, because we are so unworthy of it; but the distance is as nothing to Him, Who is ever in our midst, though He be also at the right hand of the Father on high.
Second Thought.-At the season, He sent to the husbandmen a servant. It is ever the season while we are in this world; the Church's ministers must be ready, always to meet the spiritual needs of men.
1. Alas, for her glory and dignity! too often her great ones have failed to respond to the demands the Master makes upon them in the person of His little ones, “these my brethren,” as He lovingly calls them. Too often those in authority have come to look upon the poor and ignorant as to be made use of by the Church for her own aggrandizement, to be exploited in her interest: they have been caught, beaten, and sent away empty. And we ourselves may be guilty in like manner, through our selfishness and unchristlike ways, of catching and beating our fellow-believers, that is causing them to suffer. Our Lord brings them to us that we might help them; instead of helping we send them away empty.
2. Too often those in authority in the Church have cast stones at Christ's little ones, when they came asking bread—the bread of heavenly truth. Too often they have wounded such helpless ones in the head, through unspiritual or worldly teachings—perhaps through rationalistic modernist speculations, learnedly put forth as the truth. Too often they have shamefully