27th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Is 5:1-7; Psalm 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20; 2 Phil 4:6-9; Gospel: Mt 21:33-43
In our last episode from Matthews Gospel…
In last weeks Gospel Jesus asked the people to choose which son was better, one who said he would do His Fathers work, and then did not, or one who said he would not do his Father’s work and then did.
[[QUESTION: Which is the better son?]]
Seeing Right and Wrong in others, in ourselves.
Jesus uses parables to help us to see right and wrong. Then he shows us how His parable applies to our lives and asks us to look again. Jesus does this because it is easy for us to see right and wrong in others, and more difficult to see right and wrong in ourselves. He knows that we are trapped in our sin, so in the Gospel today he is trying to free us from the path of destruction and get us onto the path of life.
God is Isaiah’s Friend
Isaiah says that his friend has a vineyard. Who is Isaiah’s friend? It is God. Who is his vineyard? It is us, the ones whom he loves.
The Stones are our sins
God shows how much he loves his vineyard, because the first thing he does is he moves through his Church and clears it of any stones.
The Stones are our hard hearts. When we have a hard heart it is difficult for us to change, to be open to Gods love and to produce good fruit. God cleansed our hearts of stones when we were Baptized.
When we are brought low we reach out to God – we open up to his grace.
God wants our hearts to be fertile sources of his love, and so he spades the vineyard over, opening the soil so that it will be more receptive to his love. For us, we are spaded over in our lives when we go through hard times and trials. We can respond in one of two ways to these times – either we can blame God – in which case our hearts become hard and stony; or we can thank God for our trials, in which case our hearts open themselves up to God’s love, like freshly turned soil receiving the autumn rains.
Choice Vines – The Sacraments – Windows of God’s love.
The choice vines that God plants in the vineyard are the sacraments that we receive. Christ nourishes us with his Body and Blood, and empowers us with the gifts of Confirmation. He calls us to service in Holy Orders and in the witness of Christian Marriage. He heals our wounds in Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. God gives us Himself in these sacraments so we can show the world His love.
The Hedge – The 10 Commandments = The boundary.
The hedge around the edge of the vineyard is the boundary that protects us. Within the vineyard there is life and abundant fruit, outside there is a wilderness where jackals, lions and robbers lurk. These predators want to break into the vineyard and spoil the fruit. The hedge is the Commandments that protect us from becoming victims of sin and destruction. They are like a man who lived with his family on a rocky island with cliffs all around it that plunged hundreds of feet into the sea. The man built walls along the edges of the cliff so his children could play in safety without falling down a cliff. In the same way the Commandments keep us from falling into evil.
Watchtower – Our Conscience
The watchtower represents our conscience. When our conscience is well formed, it recognizes the truth and leads us to live a life that is in harmony with God’s law. Our conscience alerts us when sin is trying to break through the hedge, and encourages us to chase away the temptation.
Winepress - Heaven
The winepress represents heaven – the place where we are working towards – a heavenly banquette filled with love and peace and joy. It is here that we will enjoy the fruits of our labors, with God, the Blessed Mother, and all the Saints.
We are the workers in the vineyard
In the Gospel today we learn that the workers in the vineyard are not doing the right thing. Instead of working to produce good fruit, they are plotting to kill the owner and to take the vineyard for themselves. The workers today have chosen sin over the heavenly feast. In short they are headed for self-destruction.
[[QUESTION – IS THIS GOOD OR BAD?]]
The example of Anger
If my sin is anger at some person – maybe they hurt me, or robbed me, or hurt a member of my family. I stop thinking about the work Christ has called me to do and I plot my revenge. I imagine how I will hurt them, how I will trap them and how they will suffer at my hands. When anger becomes the dominant thought in my life, it twists and distorts me. Finally, because my life is consumed with the fire of anger I have no time, and no desire to do the work of God. I begin to resent the prophets and the servants who are demanding good fruit – they become annoying and get in the way of my revenge. I am blinded to all of the gifts that God has given me and I am consumed in my sin.
The example of Lying
Similarly, if I tell a lie, I become very cautious. I spend more and more time trying to remember who I told what part of the lie to. Then, as time goes on it takes more and more energy for me to keep on telling the lies and keeping them straight. Soon, I become so busy thinking about fooling everyone that I lose touch with the truth and I am lost myself. I don’t work in the vineyard because I am too busy telling the lie.
The example of adultery
If I am trapped in adultery, either in an affair or through pornography, then my mind fills up with images of someone who is not my spouse. The more I am unfaithful the more I criticize my spouse and think poorly of them. I become cold and angry and jealous. Finally, I am so lost that I throw away the beautiful gift that God gave me for an imitation, a fake.
This is what will happen to us if we are poor workers in the vineyard. This is the warning of the Gospel, and it is meant to wake us up to take some action.
What do we do when we see that we are poor workers?
The first thing we need to do is to listen to the voice of the watchman in the tower when he yells – “Look out!” Our conscience knows that what we are doing is wrong, and it leads us to conversion and repentance. Go to confession, be absolved of your sins and work to sin no more.
What is the secret of living in the vineyard?
In the second reading St. Paul gives us the secret to living in the vineyard. He tells us how to gather in the fruit to prepare for the heavenly banquette. The secret to living in the vineyard is that we can’t buy our way to heaven with good deeds because heaven is God’s gift and it can’t be bought.
The secret to living in the vineyard is to allow God’s love to transform our lives. If God’s love is transforming our lives then our work in the vineyard becomes a great joy because we want to share that love with as many people as possible.
The secret to living in the vineyard is to depend only on God; in both good times and bad we are to have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.