27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

OPTION 1: I read this story from a homily book that James C. Turro tells a story in the Southwest about a batch of Franciscan friars who came to evangelize a pueblo in what is now known as New Mexico. As the first group arrived and before they could explain their mission, they were promptly put to death by the unfriendly and suspicious Indians. More kept coming and they were likewise killed. But more kept coming until ninth.

This set the Indians into thinking that there must be some driving force that compelled these men to come to them. Finally, when the tenth man came, they heard him out and embraced the Christian faith.

The above story gives us an idea of the gospel reading. They have striking similarities. A vineyard owner rented out his vineyard to tenant farmers. But when he sent his slaves at harvest time to get his share of the produce, the tenants killed his slaves. But in our opening story the Indians finally heard out the tenth missionary while the tenants killed even the son of the landowner.

Actually the gospel today, which speaks about a landowner who sets a deadline for his tenants to produce fruits in his vineyard and give them to him, Jesus tells us that we have to work hard for our salvation and not become lazy and complacent. It is because all of us has to give an accounting of our lives, furnish a report, to the Lord in due time. And upon reading this gospel, it tells us four things about God.

First, it tells us about God’s generosity for His people. The first line of the parable tells us that God is generous to His people. The owner of the vineyard equips it with everything: the hedge, the wine press, the tower which makes the task of the cultivators easy and these enable them to discharge it well.

For us today, God is so generous too to us. He gives our life, good health, parents to take care of us, gifts of intelligence and talents, time and treasure; opportunities to grow as persons and as Christians, people who love and take care of us and many more. Do these gifts make us closer to God? Do we give part of our time to God for our Sunday Mass, for our daily prayer or for some Bible reading?

Once upon a time at a church meeting a wealthy member of the church rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith. “I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute my wealth to the blessings of God in my life.” He went on to recall the turning point in his relationship with God. As a young man, he had just earned his first dollar and he went to a church meeting that night. The speaker at that meeting was a missionary who told about his work in the mission field. Before the offering plate was passed around, the preacher told everyone that everything that was collected that night would be given to this missionary to help fund his work on behalf of the church. The wealthy man wanted to give to support mission work, but he knew he couldn’t make change from the offering plate. He knew he either had to give all he had or nothing at all. At that moment, he decided to give all that he had to God. Looking back, he said he knew that God had blessed that decision and had made him wealthy.

When he finished, there was silence in the room. As he returned to the pew and sat down, an elderly lady seated behind him leaned forward and said, “I dare you to do it again.”

And also all of us know that we carry nothing with us to our grave when we die and yet we are so busy acquiring and accumulating more? I heard this quotation before that the riches we give away are the only riches we bring with us to God’s kingdom. The rest of them, we leave behind. So try to make it sure so that at the end of our lives when we will face the Lord we will not regret.

In other words, God does not only give us a task to do; He also gives us the means like the SWAMPS (or in one of my homilies, I made mentioned about SWAMPS wrote by Bishop Socrates Villegas in one of his homily books which means, Sacraments, Word of God, Assembly of People, Ministers, Prayer and Service) whereby to do it.

Second, it tells us about God’s trust in His people. God pays His people the compliment of entrusting them with His work because He is good. In today’s gospel, the owner of the vineyard entrusts it to tenants. He does not exercise a police-like supervision. He goes away for a vacation and leaves them with their task. Every task we receive is a task given us to do by God. But this is a risky thing to do. It is because it seems that we need close supervision to be faithful to our duties. Like for example; when the teacher leaves the classroom, it does not take long to have trouble and misbehavior.

You know, if we are only good if we are watched, then, we are not really good people. If we say: “Nobody will see,” or “Everybody is doing it,” or “Please be careful you will not be caught,” we have reached a point that we are no longer can be trusted at all. Let us all remember that we are answerable before God; we will make an accounting of our lives. Our lives, one priest said that God has given to us, is not a vacation that we want to relax and do nothing but a vocation, a call from Him to do something good while we are still alive. We will not face the Lord at the end of our lives, empty-handed.

Third, it tells us about God’s patience. The vineyard’s owner sends messenger after messenger to get his share but the tenants kills them. And yet he does not come with sudden vengeance. He gives them chance after chance to respond to his appeal. God bears with men in all their sinning and will not cast them off until we will win by Him. God uses all possible means to make us reconsider.

If God is so patient to us then, it makes us to reflect of our own patience with other people. How do we react when other people do live to our legitimate expectation or unrealistic dreams? He is so patient to us that even we commit sin but He still sends us His message of love and actively seeks peace.

But lastly, God is just. On the day of reckoning we are answerable for the way in which we have carried out the task God gives us to do. In the end, in today’s gospel, the master of the vineyard took the vineyard from the tenant and gives it to others. God’s sternest judgment is when he takes out of our hands the task which he meant us to do. A man has sunk to his lowest level when he has become useless to God. In other words, our God is providing, trusting, patient but also He is just.

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OR. I read this story from a homily book that James C. Turro tells a story in the Southwest about a batch of Franciscan friars who came to evangelize a pueblo in what is now known as New Mexico. As the first group arrived and before they could explain their mission, they were promptly put to death by the unfriendly and suspicious Indians. More kept coming and they were likewise killed. But more kept coming until ninth.

This set the Indians into thinking that there must be some driving force that compelled these men to come to them. Finally, when the tenth man came, they heard him out and embraced the Christian faith.

The above story gives us an idea of the gospel reading. They have striking similarities. A vineyard owner rented out his vineyard to tenant farmers. But when he sent his slaves at harvest time to get his share of the produce, the tenants killed his slaves. But in our opening story the Indians finally heard out the tenth missionary while the tenants killed even the son of the landowner.

In interpreting a parable it is normally a first principle that every parable has only one point and that the details are not to be stressed but today’s gospel parable is different. The details have meanings and the chief priests and the Pharisees well knew what Jesus meant this parable to them.

The landowner is God; the vineyard is the nation of Israel; the tenants are the religious leaders and the slaves are the prophets. The parable depicts the tragic unfaithfulness of the religious leaders to the task that God has given them. When God would send prophets to collect authentic fruits of faith, worship to Him.

The parable teaches us a lot about God and how God relates to us. First, we see the providence and trust of God. Before God entrusts a responsibility to us, He makes provisions (v. 33a) for all that we need in carrying out the responsibility. This shows God’s trust in us. God does not stand looking over our shoulders, policing us to make sure we do the right thing. God leaves the job to us and goes on vacation to a far country and trusts that we will do the right thing unfortunately many of us don’t.

Second, the parable also highlights God’s patience with us. God’s sends messenger after messenger to the rebellious managers who would not render to God what is His due. With each messenger, God provides another chance for us to put an end to rebellion and do the right thing. He did not come with a sudden vengeance. God bears with us in all our sinning and will not cast us off.

Third, in the end we see God’s judgment in which rebellious humanity loses their very lives and their privileges are transferred to others who are more promising. In other words, our God is providing, trusting, patient but also He is just.

But what is our response? Ingratitude is one of our negative responses, besides treachery and callousness. An ungrateful person is usually despised and avoided as one who lacks a basic ingredient of what it takes to be a decent human being. Ungrateful people seem to take for granted the generosity of God and others. They may even reach the point of “biting the hands that feed them.”

The greatest victim of our being ungrateful is actually our greatest benefactor: God Himself! He who has given us all that we have and are is often forgotten by us.

I read something like in the Internet, I was thinking this was a joke which was entitled as, “We Reap What We Sow.” I found out it was not a joke, it’s not intended to be funny, it is intended to get me thinking. I will share some of the interview. A prominent American daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How God could let something like this happen (regarding the attacks on September 11)?” Ann Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government to get of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand he leave us alone?”

The author continued by saying like this that Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said, ‘okay.’

Then someone said, ‘let’s let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won’t even have to tell their parents.’ And we said, ‘okay.’ Then some wise school board member said, ‘since boys will be boys and they’re going to do it anyway, let’s give our sons all the condoms they want so they can have all the fun they desire, and we won’t have to tell their parents they got them at school.’ And we said, ‘okay.’

Then some of our top elected officials said, ‘it doesn’t matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. Agreeing with them, we said it doesn’t matter to me what anyone, including the President, does in private as long as I have a job and the economy is good. And we said, ‘okay.’

Then the entertainment industry said, ‘let’s make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence and illicit sex. Let’s record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes. And we said, ‘it’s just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead. Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know the right from the wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates and themselves. I think it has a great deal to do with, “We Reap What We Sow.”

Funny, how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny, how we believe what the newspaper say, but question what the Bible says.

So today let us pray to God to continue to trust us, be patient with us and provides us and we too in return do not discard Him from our lives.

See Today’s Readings:  Cycle A

Back to: Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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