Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Pope Francis designated Sept. 1st to Oct. 4th as “The Season of Creation.” While thinking of this title, I was struck by the devastating fires in the west, surging waters in the south, uproars within our cities, violence surrounding us from every side, all amid the COVID pandemic! Then I recalled Julie Andrews singing “Some of My Favorite Things” in The Sound of Music, and I believe the earth is truly one of God’s favorite things. Gardens abound everywhere, alive with trees, plants, flowers of all varieties and colors; life in many forms; we must be very special to God. In today’s readings, vineyards provide the setting.
First, Isaiah tells of his friend’s vineyard: on a fertile hill, cleared of stones, and planted with choicest vines. It was equipped with a watchtower and a winepress, yet it provided “sour” grapes, so Isaiah predicts this vineyard will be abandoned, left to ruin, bereft of God’s protective care. At the end of the passage, readers learn the vineyard is the house of Israel!
The Responsorial Psalm takes up the theme of the vineyard repeating, “the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.” The verses recap the escape from Egypt, the movement away from the Lord’s concern, a plea for the Lord’s renewed protection, and a promise to return to the Lord, “then we shall be saved.”
Saint Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, is already aware of the torch having been passed to the new creation (Christ’s kingdom on earth) since Paul encourages peaceful trust in God’s presence and protection. Once you have found goodness, hopefully, your leaders will lead you to it, stick with it, and be assured God will remain with you!
The Gospel begins with an invitation from Jesus to “hear another parable”; last Sunday, we heard of the two sons of a vineyard owner, today we are again set in the same surroundings. As in the first reading, this vineyard is carefully planned and made ready, but the owner is an absentee landlord. When all is ready, the land is leased, but when the produce is expected, the tenants aren’t willing to relinquish the fruits of their labor, so messengers are abused; the scene is repeated, and the results are the same; when the son is sent, the same results occur. Unbeknownst to the listeners, Jesus is warning of His own death and the passing of the vineyard from the house of Israel to “a people who will produce fruit.”
Let us pray that our efforts will produce an abundance of good fruit.
Sr. Miriam Catherine Nevins, OP