Is 5:1-7; Phil 4:6-9; Mt 21:33-43
Employer: why do you feel, i should appoint you as a clerk in my office. Candidate: I am a very responsible person sir. In my last organization whatever thing went wrong, they said, “I am responsible for that”.
The common theme of today’s reading is the necessity of bearing fruit in the Christian life and the punishment for sterility and wickedness. In today’s first reading, which is called Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard, the prophet describes God’s care and expectations for 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 ones instead?”
Today’s gospel parable describes irresponsible behavior, greed, reckless ambition and astounding mismanagement. Jesus told this parable in response to the question put forward by the Scribes and the Pharisees about his authority to teach in the Temple. It was intended to be a strong warning to the Jews in general and to the Scribes and the Pharisees in particular, as they were planning to kill Jesus, the Messiah for whom Israel had waited for centuries.
This parable has different meanings. 1) Like the Jews, the second- and third-generation Christians also understood God as the landlord. The servants sent by the landowner represented the prophets of the Old Testament. They were to see to it that God’s Chosen People produced fruits of justice, love and righteousness. But the people refused to listen to the prophets and produced the bitter grapes of injustice, immorality and idolatry. They persecuted and killed the prophets. As a final attempt, the landowner sent his son, (Jesus), to collect the rent (fruits of righteousness), from the wicked tenants (the Jews). But they crucified him and continued to lead a life of disloyalty and disobedience. Hence, God’s vineyard was taken away from His chosen people and was given to a people (Gentile Christians), who were expected to produce fruit of righteousness.
This brings us to an important question. Did Jesus intend this parable to have meaning only for the chief priests and the Pharisees? Not at all. He intended it to have meaning for us also. And what does this parable say to us? The parable warns us that if we refuse to reform our lives, to become productive, we, too, could be replaced as the old Israel was replaced by the “new” Israel. We cease being either God’s vineyard or the tenants of God’s vineyard when we stop relating to others as loving servants. In the parable, the rent the tenants refuse to pay stands for the relationship with God and with all the people of Israel which the religious leaders refuse to cultivate. This means that before anything else, God checks on how well we are fulfilling our responsibilities to each other as children of God. The parable teaches that instead of glorying in our privileges and Christian heritage, we are called to deeds of love, including bearing personal and corporate witness that invites others into God’s kingdom.
Are we good fruit-producers in the vineyard of the Church? Jesus has given the Church everything necessary to make Christians fruit-bearing. i) The Bible to know the will of God. ii) The priesthood to lead the people in God’s ways. iii) The Sacrament of Reconciliation for the remission of sins. iv) The Holy Eucharist as our spiritual food. v) The Sacrament of Confirmation for a dynamic life of Faith. vi) The Sacrament of Matrimony for the sharing of love in families, the fundamental unit of the Church. vii) Role models in thousands of saints We are expected make use of these gifts and produce fruits for God.
Are we fruit-producers in the vineyard of the family? By the mutual sharing of blessings, by sacrificing time and talents for the members of the family, by humbly and lovingly serving others in the family, by recognizing and encouraging each other and by honoring and gracefully obeying our parents, we become producers of “good fruit” or good vines in our families.