Twenty-seventh Sunday of the Year Isaiah 5: 1-7; Philippians 3: 6-9; Matthew 21: 33-43
“Let me sing to my friend the song of his love for his vineyard. My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug the soil, cleared it of stones, and planted choice vines in it. He expected it to yield grapes, but sour grapes were all that it gave.”
The prophet Isaiah, following in the footsteps of the prophet Hosea, described Jerusalem’s history as the unfolding of God’s love for his people. With Hosea, he likened God’s relationship to his people to a marriage, thereby emphasising the intimacy of God’s love for his people.
The prophet Isaiah’s imagery in this beautiful love song spoke to the heart. Israel was cherished as God’s chosen vine, nurtured and protected within the security of his embracing love, surrounding them as the walls of a vineyard.
This love was to carry Israel through the tumultuous years that lay ahead. It would, at the same time, reveal their sin and frailty. As the chosen vine, instead of yielding grapes, they had brought forth sour grapes.
The uncertainties of the present pandemic undoubtedly reveal both strengths and weaknesses, virtue and sin.
Jesus pointed to the same inconsistencies in the parable of the landowner and his vineyard. As vintage time drew near, the landowner looked to share the riches of the harvest with his tenants. Ungrateful tenants refused to hear his repeated pleas, finally rejecting and killing his beloved son, sent as a final emissary.
Underlying this familiar parable is a fundamental truth of our existence. Life is the abundant gift of the creator. In each of us it should bear the fruit of God’s love.
We know our own frailty only too well, and perhaps fear that we are incapable of such love. Jesus came as the reassurance that we are not alone in this struggle.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me, you can do nothing.”
May we remain close to the Lord, and in him become the abundant harvest of the Father’s love.