Homily Twenty-Seven Sunday Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
· Isaiah 5:1–7;
· Ps 80:9,12–16,19–20;
· Phil 4:6–9
· Matt 21:33–43
We are tenants in God’s Vineyard
In the Gospel reading of today (Matt 21:33-43), Jesus, obviously is in Jerusalem. He is on his way to the cross. He teaches everyone on the way, especially the elites, the scribes and the Pharisees. His subject is that each of us, alt all times, and in every age and race, have been planted as a vineyard by God our maker, to bear good and lasting fruits of justice, peace, love, respect for life and the human dignity. So were the generation of the Israelites and Paul in the first and second readings (Isa 5:1–7; Phil 4:4–6).
First of in the Gospel account Jesus teachers allegorically, with reference to Jerusalem, the tenants, religious authorities, the prophets, and about himself, using the imagery or the parable of the vineyard. Each of us, the church as a whole and as individual members, as well as civil authorities and citizens of all nations can relate to this parable. We are tenants in God’s vineyard.
Allegorically, a man planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants. When harvest time came he sent successive contingents of his servants to collect the produce. On each occasion they were maltreated, insulted, rejected, beaten and stoned. The landowner finally sent his beloved son for the same mission, at least with the hope that they would respect his son. He was not respected, either. The tenants failed the test for respect. They stoned the landowner’s son, threw him outside the vineyard to die. Of course, the scribes and the Pharisees naturally would expect the landowner to judge, punish or kill off these wicked tenants and replace them with fruits bearing tenants.
Jesus’ listeners would also have understood today’s psalmist that “the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel,” as well as the first reading, “the Song of the Vineyard, in Isaiah 5:1-7.”
In the first reading, Isaiah of Jerusalem likens some ungrateful, unfaithful and unresponsive Israelites to a carefully tended but inexplicable unfruitful vineyard of wild grapes. Many of Israel prophets, before Jesus( Hos 10:1; Jer 2:21; 5:10) have also expressed disappointment on the failure of Israel, Judah, Jerusalem, the tenants, the authorities, civil and religious to bear the fruits expected of them or at least to imitate the true vine, namely Jesus ( John 15:1–10).
Every blessed day nations, parishes, families, and institutions of the earth, are faced with choices and decisions to make. The Catholic Church, other churches and religious groups are faced with responsibilities, so also her leaders and members. Today these choices may touch issues of war and peace, terrorism, sexuality, marriage, family value, health, diseases, poverty and wealth, climate change, deforestation and preservation of forest, social justice, life, the dignity of the human person and their fundamental human rights. What would Jesus have done in the face these circumstances?
Today, we are God’s people. We are the tenants in the Lord’s vineyard. God expects us to produce fruit, fruit that will endure. The obvious question for us to ask ourselves today is: How are we doing? What type of fruit are you producing? How much better are we than the chief priests, the elders, the Scribes and the Pharisees? We are specially privileged, by baptism, to be called to work in the Lord’s vineyard. Each, day, week, month, year, we are expected to bear fruit, make the Gospel, today’s readings part of our lives. We are all called to be not just members, or numbers, but active members of the Body of Christ, the Christian community, the Church, the society we belong. We are tenants in God’ vineyard!
1. Where do you find yourself in today's biblical allegory of the Lord’s vineyard?
2. How would you describe your time in the Lord’s vineyard as a tenant? What kind of tenants do you think you are?
3. What type or kind of fruit do you bear? And how beneficial is your fruit to the Church, society and your faith community, in particular?