This is the 27th Sunday in ordinary time. The readings for today once again remind us of God’s goodness and His patience with us. However, we cannot take His goodness for granted, but we need to start producing fruit. The readings also warn us of the punishment for spiritual sterility, ingratitude, and not using God-given opportunities.
This Sunday’s Gospel reading follows directly after last Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus warns the people that it is their final decision for or against God. That is, Jesus says, by our choosing to obey Him gracefully by doing His will or by our choosing to go against His will, we will determine our destiny, eternal reward or eternal punishment. God gives us freedom and opportunities; therefore, choose wisely.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus once again speaks to the priests and elders with a parable. In this parable, the landowner leases his vineyard to tenants and sends his servants to collect the portion of the harvest that the tenants owe to him. Several times the servants are sent to collect payment, and each time they are beaten and killed by the tenants. Finally, the landowner sends his son to collect his rent. The tenants, believing that they will inherit the vineyard if the landowner dies without an heir, plot together and kill the landowner’s son. After telling the parable, Jesus questions the chief priests and elders about what the landowner will do to the wicked tenants. They all agree that the landowner will kill the wicked tenants and give the land to new tenants who will pay the rent.
In telling the parable, Jesus is clearly drawing upon the first reading from Isaiah and one that the priests and elders would have known well. The first reading is called “Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard,” in which the prophet describes God’s care and expectations for His Chosen People. God’s Chosen People failed to bear fruit in spite of the blessings lavished upon them by a loving God. Further, they were poor tenants in the Lord’s vineyard. Hence, God laments: “I expected my vineyard to yield good grapes. Why did it yield sour ones instead?” What we see here is that Jesus does not, therefore, have to explain the symbolism of the parable; the Pharisees would have understood that the vineyard represented Israel, the landowner represented God, the servants represented the prophets, and the bad tenants represented the religious leaders of His time. Yet Jesus explains the meaning of the parable for His audience: the Kingdom of God will be taken from the unbelieving and given to the faithful. The chief priests and elders had condemned themselves with their answer to Jesus’ question.
In the second reading Paul tells the Philippines of the high expectations he has for them because God has been good to them. Paul instructs them to derive the true peace of God by “prayer and petition with thanksgiving” and to “keep on doing what they have learned and received and heard and seen” in him. Paul’s words of instruction as to how the Philippians should be fruit-bearing vines are equally applicable to us. We, too, must grow in our relationship with God through prayer, and listening to and following God’s will. The readings reminds us of the importance of listening to God’s word. Unlike the people in the Old Testament and the people of Jesus’ time we are today blessed with more opportunities. We have the Church to guide us to the way of truth, the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation to nourish and strengthen us. There are many wonderful opportunities here in our parish to grow spiritually. The question is, how we use these God-given opportunities? Are we attentive to God speaking to us and calling us to deepen our friendship with Him? Do we put the God-given opportunities into good use and produce fruits?
Speaking of opportunities, we have several amazing activities in the parish next weekend. The next Catholic Date Night is on Saturday, October 14th at 6:00 pm in the hall. The theme will be “Where do I find courage?” This presentation will discuss how prayer and participation in the Eucharist is the nourishment that spouses need for their marital journey. Couples of all ages and stages in their relationships are welcome. On Sunday, October 15th Bishop Brom will celebrate the 8:00 am Mass. Afterwards, he will make a presentation in the hall on the topic, “Missionary Disciples.” He is an amazing speaker, so make sure not to miss it. After the 11:00 am Mass we will celebrate the much awaited Family Fest, i.e., the annual parish picnic in the hall. This year we have added several new items to include families and people of every age. I thank the Pastoral Council and the Parish Life Team for organizing the Parish Family Fest, as I also invite everyone to participate and enjoy the games and fellowship.