Sunday October 4th 2020: Read Br Michael’s Gospel Reflection The 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Lord’s Vineyard
For the third Sunday in a row, Jesus offers us another parable about a vineyard. The image and symbol of the vineyard begins in the first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah. ‘The Song of the Vineyard’ as it is called tells the story of man who carefully dug the soil, cleared the stones and planted the best vines. He does this in the hope that it will produce the best of grapes. Sadly it produced the sourest of grapes. When Jesus speaks to the chief priests and the elders in the gospel, he retells this story knowing well they were familiar with its origin but not its deeper meaning.
A man creates a vineyard and rents it to tenants. When the time comes he sends his servants to collect the harvest that is rightly his. However they beat and kill the servants. He sends even more servants and they treat them similarly. In the end he decides to send his only son believing that they will respect him, but sadly the tenants seize and kill him too. Jesus asks the elders what the owner of the vineyard should do. They reply that the vineyard should be taken from the useless tenants and given to others who will both respect the owner and the vineyard. In reality, they themselves are the tenants who have neither respected the owner who is God, nor the vineyard, which is the Kingdom of God. It is they who have ‘destroyed’ the vineyard and kept all others out whom they consider unworthy; people such as sinners, the poor, the sick, the tax collectors and the prostitutes. These are the very ones for whom Jesus came with the Good News that they are loved personally and intimately by God. As Jesus says to elders very directly; ‘The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to people who will produce its fruit.’
The same Kingdom of God has been given to each of us today. It is now our responsibility to cultivate it so that it will produce fruits of which the owner, God will be proud and pleased. The danger is that like those in the gospel, we simply ‘protect’ it believing that it is actually ours – it isn’t! It has merely been entrusted to us; we are only the stewards, not the owners. The question that Jesus puts to us this very day is what are you doing with what has been given to you on loan, the Church which exists to serve the Kingdom of God? Are we growing and producing fruits of God’s Kingdom where the poor, the excluded and the marginalised are welcomed and included or have we become the new ‘gatekeepers’ maintaining the status quo so that it suits and benefits us? It is worth remembering that God’s Kingdom has a church, not that the church has a kingdom!
Regardless of who we are or from where we come, are all a part of the vineyard that is the Kingdom of God. Each of us is now called, invited and yes, even challenged to cooperate with others to cultivate, build and promote God’s Kingdom. It is not our right, it is our responsibility.
As we try our best each day to live as followers of Jesus, we do well to ask ourselves what kind of fruits we are producing. Let us remember the words of Jesus; by their fruits you shall know them. (Matthew 7.16)
– Br Michael Moore OMI
|Matthew 21:33-43 ©|
This is the landlord’s heir: come, let us kill him
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