Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
The readings today describe to us God’s predicament regarding His people and the blessings He gave to His people Israel and the Jews. They were the chosen people. They were the people who received the promise that the Messiah would come from them. They believed, but when the Messiah came, they wanted to eliminate Him. They abused their situation. They abused the love of God. And God gave them what they sought for: first, for His vineyard, He would “take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled!… it shall not be pruned or hoed, but overgrown with thorns and briers.” He would “command the clouds not to send rain upon it” (Is5:5-6). Second, with the unfaithful, selfish and greedy caretakers, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times” (Mt 21:41). And of His Kingdom, He said, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit” (Mt 21:43).
The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel (Resp. Ps). The vineyard is His people, our families, our communities. When there’s abuse, God takes away His blessings from us. God will leave His vineyard to ruin, to grazing by others and to be trampled, and give the kingdom to those who will bear fruit. And this happens when:– we abuse our capacities and virtues;
– we have lost the sense of the presence of God;
– we abuse and abandon our responsibilities to our families, which is the abode of God;
– we take into our hands the life of others, especially the unborn and the weak;
– we transgress God’s commandments to our own convenience and gratification;
– we take advantage of the weak;
– and many more.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, encourages us:
1. “By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God… will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (4:6-7). Yes, just like a son who tells his father about himself, there is nothing too big that God cannot take, and nothing too small that He will not appreciate. In the spirit of thanksgiving, the basic attitude in all prayer, we can offer to Him all our experiences, whether or not we like them; we ask help for others and for ourselves; we ask forgiveness for the sins we have committed; we praise and adore Him, His majesty and His goodness. Then, He will guard our minds and our hearts.
2. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (4:8). So, think about these things:
a) Who are your friends? Good friends are always rewarding. Bad friends bring us curse.
b) What are your obsessions? Remember that whatever you seriously desire mentally, good or bad, will come to you.
c) What do you do with your free time? My parents were so concerned with what we did with our free time. We just could not sit and do nothing. We had to read a book or do something worthwhile. I remember a caption in a priest’s rectory that reads, if you have nothing to do, don’t do it here. Don’t give the devil a chance to work in you.
3. “Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you” (4:9). St. James would say: faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:17). Paul’s self-confidence is based on his hope and love for Jesus, because he saw himself as loved by Jesus, called by Jesus, and sent by Jesus.
Let us do what we have learned. Paul gave us the example of faith, the value of hard work, and the meaning of suffering for the Lord Jesus. Let this Eucharist lead us to an understanding of and to a life of gratitude for true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and grace-filled relationships. Then the God of peace, the God of wisdom and the God of power will always be with us.