Oct 4 2020 Reflection
Sunday 4 October 2020
First Reading: IS 5:1-7
The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
PS 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20
Second Reading: PHIL 4:6-9
Gospel Reading: MT 21:33-43
Today’s Note: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
Let me now sing of my friend . . . concerning his vineyard. (Isaiah 5:1)
Vineyards appear in Scripture time and again. In fact, they are in three of today’s four readings. Usually, as today’s psalm response says, a vineyard is “the house of Israel,” which belongs to God.
Isaiah’s song of the vineyard seems to be a gloomy tale for Israel—a carefully cultivated vineyard bearing only wild grapes, and an owner who allows it to fall to ruin. While Isaiah doesn’t guarantee what God will do with his people, it’s pretty certain that if nothing changes and they continue in their sin, they will experience the effects of cutting themselves off from God.
But even in the midst of this grim story, there is hope. Don’t forget that the landowner tirelessly cultivates his vineyard. He doesn’t give up! Yes, God expects to see fruit from his people, but only because he knows we can bear fruit. And yes, when we separate ourselves from God, we experience the consequences. But God constantly calls us back and offers us his help. That’s cause for hope.
Think about the way Isaiah’s landowner took great pains to prepare and protect his vineyard. He planted it in fertile, well-cleared soil. He planted a hedge around it and built a tower to watch for enemies. Similarly, God plants us in his grace and gives each one of us all the nourishment we need to flourish under his care.
Baptism makes you his own. The Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation nourish and restore you. The Holy Spirit lives in you and, like living water, helps you grow in holiness. What’s more, your brothers and sisters in the Lord, like the other vines in the vineyard, support and encourage you along the way.
God takes great pains to cultivate you like a precious vine. The grace for you to grow to love him more and bear fruit for his kingdom—it’s all there waiting for you. Take hold of it!
“Heavenly Father, help me to respond to your relentless grace and to bear fruit for you!”