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Theology for the common man

27 Sunday in Ordinary time

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Today’s first reading contains one of the most beautiful songs about Yahweh’s love for the people of Israel: The Song of the Vineyard. “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his cherished plant”. God saw to the creation and safety of his chosen people like to a cherished vineyard that is provided with everything necessary to grow good fruit. Yet the fruits it yielded were bitter. The Lord of hosts’ verdict was merciless: “I will take away hedge, give it to grazing, break through its walls, let it be tramped! I will make it a ruin: it shall not be pruned or hoed, but overgrown with thorns and briers. I will command the clouds not to send rain upon it”. Of course this is a verdict in the spirit of the Old Testament that did not yet know of the Son of God and His atonement that repaired the relationship between God and His people. The parable of the vineyard is what Jesus Christ speaks of today as when He indicates the main reason for the disloyalty of Israel: the words of the parable are directed at the high priests and elders because they were responsible for the state of the religion of Israel during those times. The vineyard in Christ’s parable was loaned out to the farmers (leaders), in exchange for its fruits when the time came. Lack of fruit causes the master of the vineyard (God), to dismiss the farmers, though not right away. The Lord first gives the farmers several chances by sending his servants (prophets) with a reminder; finally He even sends his own son. The farmers, however, take advantage of the fact that He is the heir and simply murder Him. This clear reference to the attempt to kill the Son of God by the leaders of Israel leaves no room for doubt: they know that Jesus had been speaking to them and blames them for the condition of the religion in the country. This is why a change must take place: “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit”. The Church is this “nation”, managed with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is a Church that is aware of its sinful nature but also its great calling: to create a deeper bond with God in the saving Cross of Jesus Christ. And this is exactly what Jesus Christ had in mind: we need to produce the proper fruits of life by constantly drawing from the source of God in Christ, which is the Sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist. What else do we need to be closer to God?