27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Theme : Christian Stewardship – am I growing a harvest?
1st Reading: Isaiah 5: 1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 80
2nd Reading: Philippians 4:6-9
Gospel : Matthew 21:33-43
- I do not really have ‘green fingers’!
- Most of the plants I try to care for – especially pot plants – end up dying!
- So, perhaps I am not the best person to speak about growing grapes!!!
- In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the parable of the vineyard as an opportunity to engage with the chief priests and the elders – his greatest critics!
- The image of a vineyard would have been very familiar to them
- The prophet Isaiah had used the image centuries before!
- Isaiah had always made it clear that God chose Israel as his own people out of all the nations of the world
- Not because they had done anything to deserve it or were in any way particularly special,
- neither was their choosing meant to give them a position of privilege or status!
- Instead, Israel’s election came with responsibility and obligation to all people not just a privileged few!
- Israel was meant to mirror God to all the nations of the world!
- Matthew uses Isaiah’s story and message to offer a rather simple, straightforward summary of salvation history.
- For Matthew’s community of mainly Jewish Christians listening, it would have been clear that the landlord’s servants symbolised the many prophets God had sent to Israel, only for them to be met with contempt and scorn.
- The son is the figure of Jesus – yet he too was dragged out and killed.
- The parable concludes with the comparison that in the same way the vineyard was leased to other tenants, the Kingdom of God will be given to the Gentiles who will believe, trust and bear fruit!
- The privilege of being the people of God has passed from Israel to the Gentiles, who, says Jesus, will know how to produce good grapes and deliver the produce when the time comes!
- For us – the modern followers of Jesus – the message of this parable remains pretty much the same!
- The vineyard has been entrusted to us!
- We are called not only to care for the Gospel given to us
- But to give it life, help it grow and, by the lives we lead, bear fruit!
- We too are meant to mirror God to the world!
- So, the question is: “Are we growing anything – in our own lives and in the life of our parish community?”
- Unfortunately, the answer too often is no!
- Too often our discipleship becomes narrow, ritualistic and lifeless!
- We produce bitter grapes!
- Just like those tenants who thought that they had special privileges!
- How many of us think that just because we are baptised Catholics, we are OK; we don’t have to work in the vineyard?!
- But, attendance at Mass is no measure of our discipleship not does it guarantee that the Church will grow and flourish!
- All the things we do here at St. Joseph – daily Mass, devotions, bible study, Alpha, Vine Groups – are meant to help people grow spiritually.
- Sometimes however, people do these things instead of growing!
- They forget the responsibility and obligation we have as Catholic Christians!
- Too many people see the sacraments, prayers and devotions as magic tricks!
- If I just “do” them, I will be ok!
- For sure, the sacraments do give us grace to build and nourish our relationship with God and grow our discipleship – but they are not meant to replace it!
- It is committed discipleship that mirror’s Christ to the people we meet!
- Disciples are students – life-long learners who want to go deeper and know more!
- In the bible, knowledge implies intimacy – to know something in our hearts as well as in our heads!
- Only when our discipleship becomes an affair of the heart not of the lips will we be transformed and our lives changed!
- That is the goal of discipleship!
- It’s what happens when you get your hands dirty and grow your faith!
- We hope that it is YOUR goal too!