04Oct 04 October, 2020. 27th Sunday, Year A

04 October, 2020. 27th Sunday, Year A

The church is the choice vineyard of the Lord, planted for a noble and productive purpose. Here we can grow to maturity in the sunshine of God’s grace. But the vineyard can fall into disuse, or fail to produce the expected fruits of loving mercy. We pray that our lives may never be soured by bitterness or disillusionment

1st Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7

Israel is the vineyard God has tended. It is expected to bear fruits of holiness

Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard:

My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?
And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns
I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice, but saw bloodshed
righteousness, but heard a cry!

Responsorial: Psalm 79:9, 12-16, 19-20

R./: The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
to plant it you drove out the nations.
It stretched out its branches to the sea,
to the Great River it stretched out its shoots. (R./)

Then why have you broken down its walls?
It is plucked by all who pass by.
It is ravaged by the boar of the forest,
devoured by the beasts of the field. (R./)

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted. (R./)

And we shall never forsake you again:
give us life that we may call upon your name.
God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved. (R./)

2nd Reading: Philippians 4:6-9

We should do whatever is true, honourable, just and right

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43

God is master of the vineyard and expects a proper return from the tenants

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders: “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces its fruit.”


Our personal “Vineyard”

Our God is a God who trusts his workers. Just as the landowner gave the tenants a fully equipped vineyard in which to work and produce, God creates the possibilities for work, fruitfulness and success for us too. He provides us with opportunities and resources and trusts that we will make the most of these. Our own, personal vineyards are completely unique. Do we recognise how our lives are moulded by God? Do we recognise the opportunities and resources that God has given us? Have we experienced the freedom and trust that God gives us? Have we responded responsibly or have we responded similar to the tenants at times?

The first reading from Isaiah echoes this truth. The friend of Isaiah owns a fertile hillside, he spades it, he clears it of stones, plants the choicest vines, builds the traditional watchtower, installs the typical wine press and then anticipates an excellent and abundant harvest. What he gets instead are wild grapes. We feel the pain of unrequited love in the second half of the reading of Isaiah. We feel the pain of a broken heart acting out in anger–an earthy, anthropomorphic illustration of the disappointment God feels in his people who have not acted justly and with compassion to the lowly and oppressed.

The social background to the parable

We can read the parable in the social context of the time. Jesus does not necessarily approve of what people do in his stories. John J Pilch (The Cultural World of Jesus Cycle A) writes: “The parable reflects a reality familiar to all peasants, namely, the extortion practiced by hard-nosed absentee landowners. Modern scholars have pieced together bits and pieces of information to gain a better understanding of the situation of tenant farmers based on what is known about peasant free-holders, that is, peasants who were fortunate enough to own and farm their own land. Some of the crop would have to be used for trade to gain other necessities of life. There were also social dues (gifts), religious tithes, and taxes adding up to about 35 or 40%. About 20% of the annual produce would be left to feed the family and livestock of a free-holding peasant. Far less would be left to tenant farmers who also owed land rent.”
In addition to this, in the story the landowner shows little concern for his servants/slaves and even for his own son and heir: he too in a different way is dispossessed. All are losers.

And yet the story describes reality, then and now. Injustice leads to desperation, desperation to violence, and violence to yet more violence. The more we have, the more we have to protect. There is a strong message here for society today–and for the church and its leaders. Who delivers the fruit?

With so much violence in the news, our mind could be overcome with the powers of evil. We need what St Paul says: “beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Pádraig McCarthy)


3 Responses

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key message:
    Listen to Jesus now, avoid regrets later.


    Takeaway from first reading:
    Opening story:
    Jason, father of two girls was a very hardworking person. He brought up his daughters with full love and care. He gave them good education, specialised tuition in their weak subjects, taught them music and dance. All was going good till the girls went to college. As their college was in another city, they had to move to a hostel. In their college life, they learnt the filthy way of life and spoiled their morals. They did not hold on to any of morals taught by the father and quickly forgot him. To cater for their filthy expenses, they started thieving. As days progressed, they chartered out plans for bank burglaries and executed them. Soon they were caught and jailed. Father was devastated. As he looked at this daughters behind the bars, he cried “Did I sacrifice my life, just to see you like this?”

    Almighty Father took care of the children of Israel in their every need. He brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand with ten unfathomable miracles. Like a father he protected them from all his enemies. But they could not gather strength during the time of trials by remembering and meditating the miracles which Almighty God had done for them. They complained and murmured against God and did not obey his commandments. How much it would have pained the heart of our Father?

    During times of trial do we remember the good things that God has done for you and continue to trust Him or start to murmur and complain against our good God?

    Takeaway from second reading:

    The Apostle Paul says, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    The golden rule to handle problems in life is provided here – It says not to worry, simply pray. When we have problems, we start worrying about it. But the rule to handle the problem is not to worry and cast our cares on the Lord. Powerful prayer is acknowledging to Jesus that we are not sufficient enough to handle our responsibilities and submitting ourselves to him for His providence.

    If we pray and continue to worry, then do we really trust God?

    Takeaway from Gospel reading:

    Jesus summarises the Old Testament and the New Testament in today’s Gospel.
    God chose the people of Israel as His own. He freed them from Egypt with a mighty hand. He was taking care of them like a mighty warrior. He gave them the ‘Ten commandments’, committed to a loving bond ‘Hereafter I will be your God and you will be my people’. He sent many prophets among them. All the prophets faced opposition and rejection. Finally He sent His own son, our Lord Jesus. He was put to death by the hands of His own people.

    Let’s meditate on:

    “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces its fruit.”
    There is nothing worse than losing the kingdom of God and regretting it later. Almighty God has plans for us to prosper, not to harm us.
    God gives us a choice, either to bear fruit or to dry and wither. But knowingly, many of us choose to dry and wither, instead of obeying to bear fruit.

    Walking with God by committing to daily Morning Prayer, meditating on God’s love and thanking Him wholeheartedly by having little talks with him is a beautiful life. More than us, people around us will be able to recognise our fruits. When we lead a life without thinking about God or giving importance to Him, our energy will fade. We will soon become hard to live with and negative.

    Let’s learn to obey the little voice in us in little things and God will enable us to do big achievements for Him.

    Tips for leading a fruitful life:

    1. Keep yourself committed to God always.
    2. Pray with thanksgiving always. When you have a problem, give thanks to God for He is blessing you with victory in the same. For example, if you need a job, give thanks to God for your job is on its way. Give thanks to Him, for He is already working on arranging the job suitable for you.
    3. Pray without worrying and watch God work it out for you.
    4. As long as we are worrying, we are not trusting God. Only if we trust God and pray then will we be able to enjoy the peace that surpasses all understanding. Others will be wondering how in this time of trial also they are able to live with so much peace.
    5. Instead of meditating on movie songs, let’s meditate on Worship songs and get more energy.
    6. Presence of God is the most precious one, which we can work for. God is waiting to fill us with His presence, to do mighty God exploits for Him. Let’s wait for His presence and wait in His presence.

    Learn to listen to the small still voice. It’s a beautiful experience when we walk hand-in-hand with God.

  2. Sean O’Conaill

    Here again we are reminded that the source of all disorder has already been overthrown – that the power to take life has been overthrown by the power that gives life to us, and that the vineyard of the Lord cannot fail to produce the wine that sustains eternal life.

    On whatever day a voice of alarm may ask ‘who is in charge now?’ we can therefore say:

    ‘Hush – it is always the Lord – who knows far more always than we ever could, and forgets none of us!’

  3. Stella Stephenson

    Thara Benedicta your comments on today’s readings are wonderful and are most helpful. You are so good. You have such amazing insight. Thank you.