Homily - 27th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A - Fr Lubem Robert Waya osj

4 October 2020 

Homily for XXVII (27) Sunday Year A. 04-10-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj. 
 First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7 
 Psalm: Psalm 79(80): 9, 12-16, 19-20 
 Second Reading: Philippians 4:6-9 
 Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43 
 
We are witnessing yet again today in a row of three Sundays in which our gospel readings talk about the vineyard. What is interesting today however is that we do not have the vineyard only in the gospel reading but beginning right with our first reading from the prophet Isaiah. It is clear hence that vineyards were a common asset highly cherished among the people of Israel even in Jesus’ time. To successfully sustain a vineyard required so much loving care, sacrifice and great attention as we can see in the first reading. And owning a vineyard was a mark of material prosperity since many of its owners would let them out to tenants for the purpose of collecting rent. A closer look at this haunting parable of Isaiah reveals that the vineyard here was used as a metaphor for Israel. God had lavished this vineyard of His with so much loving care yet it still yielded sour grapes. Why? For our sake Christ uses the same imagery in the gospel reading and the metaphor was as clear to His listeners as it is for us today.
 
The parable today addressed to the chief priests and the elders is the second of the three Parables of Rejection which precede Christ’s paschal mystery in Matthew. Going through it we are quick to understand the meaning of the parable to be that the leaders of the people were failing to lead them aright. And for such gross failure, there are consequences just as there are for everything not excluding bringing those failed leaders to a wretched end. It is easy for us to conclude here that Jesus was only addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people who represented the leaders, without realizing that each and everyone of us is in fact addressed in this parable. Just as the tenants of the master who were entrusted with the vineyard failed to deliver its produce at the appropriate time and in greed chose instead to kill the master’s servants and son, so also, we have been entrusted with vineyards and we will be called to account for our stewardship at the last day. But what is this vineyard that each of us has been given?  
 
The story of the vineyard tells of God’s love and confidence in His people as He demonstrates by loaning His land, the earth to us. So everywhere we find ourselves, we are in charge in one capacity or the other. That is why in Romans 11:36 St. Paul tells us that ‘everything comes from the Lord. All things were made because of Him and will return to Him. Praise the Lord forever. Amen.’ We are all in charge, are we going to let God down? Today is a day to ask ourselves what do we do with those things and gifts the Lord has loaned to us? They are the vineyards He has entrusted to our care as His tenants, beginning with the earth our common home in which He has put man to be head over everything. But how are we tending to it and the things in the world through the positions of leadership and authority we hold in the church and society, the wealth we have, our families, wives and husbands or our children, our health, our faith, our intelligence or other talents? If you claim that you have none of these gifts, what about your body and your life? Every living human being has at least these, and however we use them, we shall give an account at the last day.
 
Today we live in a world that sees leadership and authority as an instrument of power and control over people and resources. As a pastor/minister of God placed over people, or a politician/public office holder, is this how you see your position of leadership and authority or do you see it as an opportunity for service? For some others wealth is an instrument for oppression of the poor, family union is no different from a business contract just as the human body for some is nothing but a commodity to be exploited economically and as such is no longer to be treated with the sacredness and dignity required. Good health is sacrificed on the altar of seeking wealth and fame where we say ‘get rich at all cost or die trying,’ faith has been notoriously linked to material prosperity followed by signs and wonders, and intelligence is not used for service but for intimidation. That is why today we have more intellectuals than ever, but the world has even more problems now than ever before. God has taken so much care to prepare us, beginning from when He knitted us in our mothers’ wombs and gave us life and breath with a body infused with the powers of speech, vision and the ability to hear, smell, walk and be able to think with our brains, plan with our minds and work with our strengths and capacities. But what do we do with all these faculties? If we are not producing the desired effects, it means that we are vineyards that have failed to deliver their produce at the right season and we are going to be cut down. Also, as tenants of these vineyards, our vineyards will be taken away from us and given to those tenants who can deliver their produce at the right season. As we commit ourselves to retrace our steps back to God, let us pray in today’s mass that the efforts the Lord has put in to molding us into His cherished vineyards will not be in vain. May He give us the grace to be fruitful vineyards that will deliver their produce at the right season, and make us tenants that will be accountable for the vineyards that He has entrusted into our charge. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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