Theme of the Sunday: The Vineyard of the Lord. The first reading and the gospel use the image of a vineyard. Israel, says Isaiah, is the vineyard that the Lord loved, but it yielded only sour grapes. Jesus takes up that same image but with a difference: Isaiah says that the vineyard will be destroyed; Jesus states that the tenants will be replaced and the vineyard will be kept. The second readings, taken together, complement each other. The short passage from the letter to the Philippians can be connected to the theme of this Sunday. Paul insists on the concrete aspect of Christian life. The mark of authenticity of faith are the works of love; fruits that all appreciate.
Within your will, O Lord, all things are established and there is none that can resist your will. For you have made all things, the heaven and the earth, and all that is held within the circle of heaven; you are the Lord of all.
Almighty ever-living God, who in the abundance of your kindness surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you, pour out your mercy upon us: to pardon what conscience dreads, and to give what prayer does not dare to ask. Through our Lord…
The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 5:1-7)
Let me sing for my beloved a love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I beg you, between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry!
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 80:8 and 11.12-13.14-15 and 17b.18-19(R. Isaiah 5 :7a)
R/. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
You drove out the nations and planted it.
It stretched out its branches to the sea;
To the River it stretched out its shoots. R.
Then why have you broken down its walls?
It is plucked by all who pass by the way.
It is ravaged by the boar of the forest,
Devoured by the beasts of the field. R.
God of hosts, turn again, we implore;
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted,
the son of man you have claimed for yourself. R.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name.
O Lord God of hosts, bring us back;
Let your face shine forth, and we shall be saved. R.
This do and the God of peace will be with you.
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians (Philippians4:6-9)
Brethren: Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA John 15:16
Alleluia. I chose you from the world that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, says the Lord. Alleluia.
He leased the vineyard to other tenants.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 21:33-43)
At that time: Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, “Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his ‘servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. “Afterwards he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Today the scripture tells us to turn from our wicked ways of face the justice of God. When wa, as creatures of God, begin to bear fruit of the evil one, there is a problem. We practice religiosity so intensely yet our attitude towards others is questionably bad. Isaiah makes a figurative expression of the expectation of God: justice and righteousness. This is realizable when we follow the instructions of St Paul in the second reading, to fill our hearts with whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious. These virtues will guide and guard us in living a righteous life worthy of the plans God has for us. Imbibing these virtues, we will never despise the word of God and his messengers like the tenants did in the Gospel text. Do you treat the word of God with contempt, or disregard ministers of his word? Never forget those you describe as non-entities in the discharge of their duties….. God is interested in those; will you abuse them or speak to them with scorn? When we turn from our wicked ways and fill our hearts with virtues, the fruits of blessedness will follow us, and God’s justice will look upon us with kindness, else we shall be deprived of the kingdom of God.