10-8-2017 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct 9, 2017
27th Sunday in OT / A / 2017
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
There is no denying that our readings are a little dark today—a reminder that Biblical religion is not all "fun and games," not just a feel-good remedy for the world. The Bible is always challenging—1) challenging us to live up to our call, 2) challenging us to be the people that God created us to be, 3) challenging us to live in harmony with God, with nature, and with each other.
Both the first reading and the Gospel use the same image: a vineyard—God’s vineyard. In the OT, the vineyard was Israel; in the NT, the vineyard is the Church. God loves this vineyard. Listen to the care that Isaiah describes: "My friend had a vineyard (who is the friend? God!); he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines" to produce good wine.
But what happened? Wild grapes arose! Grapes not suited for fine wine. Sour and bitter. And God wonders, "What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done?"
What are the wild grapes? Israel’s infidelity. Israel chased after other gods. Israel broke the covenant. Israel sinned—and now God allows it to feel the consequences of its sins: "Yes, I will make it a ruin . . . (because) I looked for peace, but see, bloodshed; for justice, but hark, the outcry."
The Gospel continues the same theme, a continuation of Isaiah. The first people who heard this Parable of the Vineyard would have understood the image of the vineyard—the chief priests and the elders would have known that Jesus was speaking to them. But let’s remember that the Gospel is always present, speaking to us—we are the new vineyard, the new people of the Covenant. As God cared for Israel, God also cared for us— emptying himself and taking the form of a slave.
And what is our reaction to God’s goodness—the God who emptied himself? We’ve become wild grapes—we have not produced justice, love, reconciliation, chastity, respect for others. We’ve killed the Son, and now we’re thrown out of the vineyard—to a wretched end.
So . . . I said that our readings are a little dark today. But our world is also a little dark. Just take a look at the news in the last week. President Trump described the shooting in Las Vegas as evil. Yes, there is evil in the world. The earth is full of wild grapes!
But is there reason to give up? Is there reason to lose hope? Is there reason to despair?
No. Why? Because, "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’"?
The cornerstone. The one whom we killed conquered the darkness, rose from the dead, and now brings light and life and hope and salvation to all.
We are given a second chance, and a third and fourth and fifth as well. It is never too late to produce good fruit—to be an antidote to evil in the world, to turn away from sin and to be faithful to the Gospel.
With God’s grace, all things are possible—to rise out of the darkness, to heal the wounds of sin and division, to bring God’s peace into the vineyard . . . and the world.