October 2, 2011: 27th 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 rejectedhas 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.” (Matthew 21:33-43)
The Gospel message is a warning for the Jewish people. The landowner is God and the heir that God sends is Jesus. Israel is the tenant. Jesus is encouraging Israel to follow Jesus and produce “fruit” or good works, so that others might also see their Christian lives and want to follow Jesus. The landowner takes great care in creating the vineyard (God’s kingdom of believers) – he puts a hedge around it and a tower for protection. He chose quality grapes. The landowner – God- gives the people all that they need to be successful and “fruitful.” But the people are ungrateful and continue to live as they wish, rather than follow God’s guidance. The landowner also gave the people time to produce results. He didn’t ask for “payment” until the produce was ripe.
“Fruit” or good works are a sign that we are Christians, that we believe in God and try to follow Christ’s example in our lives – that we love all people and look to meet the needs of those who have little. God gives us many blessings to enable our vineyard of service to ripen. It’s up to us, then, to look for ways to help others with the blessings that we’ve been given. Are you good at math? Why not offer to tutor someone who needs your help? Do you have a pretty voice? Offer to sing at church or help others gain confidence in this area. Bloom (serve) where you are planted today.