Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

The parable in today’s gospel begins with numerous references to the first reading from the prophet Isaiah. In that reading a vineyard is meticulously prepared. But the vineyard is still a failure. You get the sense that despite the preparations, the vineyard refused to produce good grapes. This points to the Hebrew people who were lovingly prepared to bear fruit for God, but who rejected God. The Lord complains that He looked for justice. Biblically, justice means a relationship where the people are one with God. Instead, the people rejected God and chose bloodshed[1]

Today’s Gospel repeats God’s complaint, only the parable becomes more specific. What was it that the people had done and were still doing? They rejected God’s emissaries, the prophets. Later on in the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus would weep over Jerusalem because the city kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers. What is worse, like in the parable, the son, Jesus himself, would be taken outside of the vineyard, outside of the city and killed[2]. Why? Why did they hate him so much as to demand his crucifixion?  Well, the point is that the Lord upset the status quo, their cushy lifestyle. The chief priests, the Sanhedrin and all the leaders of the people had a comfortable living. Then this Jesus shows up, not just challenging their authority, but demonstrating to the people that their leaders were concerned about themselves, not concerned about caring for God’s people. Those with power did not want to be challenged by anyone, certainly not by some commoner from Galilee. Even worse, they knew that He was right. But following Him would demand that they change their lives radically. They would not do this.  Jesus had to go. So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. But they could not destroy God’s plan. The Kingdom of God would be taken away from them and given to a people that would produce fruit.

When you think about it the readings are a bit scary, absolutely frightening to tell the truth. The readings are demanding that we bear fruit or have the Kingdom of God taken from us. This is contrary to the popular feel good concept of Divine Justice. I am referring to the attitude in life that results from reducing God to a figure that does not hold us accountable for our actions. Yes, we commend our dead to the mercy and compassion of God. And yes, we ask Mary to pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. But our prayers do not absolve us from our present responsibility to live as the Lord told us to live and to do the work of God.  We have to move from the mentality that we can get away with purposely behaving badly, acting without concern for the consequences of our actions. All of us our tempted to believe that God will forgive us no matter how badly or how often we reject Him. This is contrary to Scripture.

Actions have consequences. This is not restricted to the negative. Good actions have good consequences. In the conclusion of the parable, those who made the best use of the talents that God has given them hear, Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your master.  He will say that to us also if we live in a way determined to bear fruit for the Kingdom ■

[1] 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time A, October 5, 2014. Readings: Isaiah 5:1-7; Responsorial Psalm 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43.
[2] As we know well, Jesus was not crucified in Jerusalem, but on that horrible hill, Golgotha, just outside of the city walls.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris