Isaiah 5: 1-7 Philippians 4: 6-9 Matthew 21:33-43
The daughter failed to get her mother on the phone for two successive days. On the third day she drove 50 miles to her mother’s home. She opened the door and found her mother in a pool of blood, dead. She contacted the police. When asked by them whom she suspected, without hesitation she replied, “My step-brother.” Further she added, that thrice before this, her step-brother had attempted to rob the mother’s jewels and failed. On one of these visits he had wounded the mother. The police checked the safe and found jewelry, worth $ 40,000 was missing, along with some documents connected with the house and land owned by the family. After three weeks the step-brother was arrested.
People in the neighboring homes loved the old lady. But after she was murdered they called her crazy, mad, stupid and insane. These good neighbors had rescued her more than once from her son. Yet the lesson of these several episodes proved useless; she kept on welcoming her son. Hers was a problem not uncommon to mothers. Yes, a mother’s love has no limit. If we cannot fathom the finite love of mothers, how can we grasp or understand God’s infinite love?
Today’s parable of the wicked tenants of the vineyard is told by all three Synoptics, with slight differences here and there. Yet, one thing stands very clear; where love is concerned we cannot find a crazier person than God. His love for mortals is a love gone wild. We cry for vengeance, but God cries for unconditional love.
In today’s first reading, which is called “Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard,” the prophet describes God’s love, and expectations from, His Chosen People. God’s chosen people have failed to bear fruit, in spite of the blessings lavished upon them by a loving and forgiving God. Further, they have been poor tenants in the Lord’s vineyard. Hence, God laments: “I expected my vineyard to yield good grapes. Why did it yield sour/wild ones instead?”
In the parable in the Gospel the landowner is God himself. He sent servants many times to collect the produce of the vineyard. But each time the servants were killed. The servants represent the prophets of the Old Testament who suffered for preaching the Word of God by being killed violently. Then the landowner sent his son, Jesus, who was also killed. The landowner took the vineyard from those tenants and gave it to other tenants. The vineyard in the parable is the Church, and so when the vineyard is taken from those tenants and given to others (Matt 21:41) it is a symbolic way of saying that the Church would consist not just of the chosen people, the Jews, but would include all peoples.
But what does the parable mean for us today? If the vineyard is the Church and we are the tenants, then God wants us to give him produce from his vineyard, the Church. God has given the Church a deposit, the deposit of faith, which means we are keeping the faith in trust for God and we are to hand it on to the next generation exactly as we received it.
We often think of fruits of faith as money or treasure. It is. But there are also fruits of faith known as time and talents. God has richly supplied each and every one of us with talents. God does not necessarily need our talents returned to him. But we do and can return our fruits of faith, talents, to God as we give them to others. Here is only one list among many found in Scripture. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”(GALATIANS 5:22,23). There is no law against showing or returning these fruits of faith to our fellow man. What a wonderful blessing for those around us to see in us these gifts of God, these talents, overflowing from us unto them!
As we go home today, let us ask ourselves these questions: Are we bearing fruit for the kingdom of God? Is our Christian love real and active, something that inspires others, or is it just words and mere talk?