TWENTYSEVENTH SUNDAY A: HOMILY by Fr. Matthias Lusembo

THEME: WE ARE TENANTS IN GOD’S VINEYARD

Objective: That we deliver fruits to God

Today’s first reading (Is 5:1-7) and the Gospel (Mt 21:33-43) use the image of the vineyard. Isaiah says that Israel is the vineyard for which God cared so much, but it yielded only sour grapes. That is to say: infidelity, oppression and exploitation, hatred, bloodshed and religious externalism. Jesus takes up that same image of the vineyard but with a difference: While Isaiah says that the vineyard will be destroyed, Jesus states that only the disobedient tenants will be replaced.

The owner of the vineyard is God. The tenants are the religious and political leaders of Israel who were in charge of making people produce fruits. The fruits were supposed to be faithfulness to the covenant with God, practical love of neighbor and social justice. The servants sent to collect the fruits are the prophets who were sent to remind people of their alliance with God.

The Son sent by the owner of the vineyard is Jesus Christ who was thrown out of Jerusalem and murdered by the leaders of Israel; the harvest time is the moment of God’s intervention.  Finally, God leased the vineyard to other tenants, the pagans.

Matthew uses this parable to explain why the Church of his time was made mostly of non-Israelites. Members of the Church are now the workers in God’s vineyard and it is from them that God the owner of the vineyard now requests for the fruits. If they cannot produce any, they will be condemned like the tenants in the parable.

You will not be condemned, because you are very supportive of this parish and the poor. You continuously answer the Pastor’s appeal generously. So, you are good stewards. We are very grateful to you for that attitude.

Besides fruits of time, talent and treasure, I hope we are all yielding justice, love, and peace in the world. I hope that we are all generous in embracing various vocations to marriage, priesthood, and religious life. If God, the Creator calls your son or daughter to priestly or religious life, do you accept happily?

Are we the cause of joy to the people we meet in our liturgies? As St. Paul says in the second reading (Phil 4:6-9), are we pure, pleasant, charming, amiable, peacemakers? Do we really protect the environment as God wants? If our answer to each of these questions is YES, then praise the Lord, for we are good stewards of God’s vineyard. If not, then we should change and become good tenants, before we are thrown out.

The Son of God who was rejected and murdered by the tenants became our spiritual food in the Eucharist. As we receive him, let us remember that we are supposed to deliver fruits to him for His Father, the owner of the entire universe: Fruits of love of God above everything; Fruits of priestly and religious vocations; fruits of forgiveness and love of neighbor; fruits of justice and money for parish and schools; fruits of generosity towards the poor, especially displaced persons (immigrants, refugees, and Asylum seekers), for we are tenants in God’s vineyard.