When we were created God made us into little vineyards. He fenced it round defining our individual identity. He dug a winepress in it enabling us to be productive and bear fruit for our labour. He built a tower from where we can watch over the vineyard; he gave us a heart to watch our life to discern good from bad.
The parable in today’s gospel reminds us that God is the owner of the vineyard. God made us into a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug the soil, cleared it of stones, and planted choice vines in it; he created us in his likeness with a full capacity to be good. Then he leased it to his tenants; then God gave us the freedom to choose how we manage our vineyard, what we choose to do with our life on earth.
The owner of all the vineyards is all about good. We are expected to produce good fruits. We are fertilized daily with talents and blessings, graces sufficient for the day. We are to work with ‘other vineyards’ to produce good for we all belong to the Kingdom of God.
Some of us are able to live a good life on earth, obedient to God’s will and producing good fruit and glorifying him. Good tenants. But most of us are caught in the revelry of a good harvest. We become bad tenants by making wrong choices. Over time, we keep the good fruit for ourselves or live with such neglect that we start producing bad fruit. We start to forget the source of our life and hence keep God outside our fence.
When we choose to wander far away from God, or when we choose to shut our gates to his presence, God choose to send us messengers to remind us of who he is. “When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce”. The message is always gentle but sometimes our reaction can be quite violent. This can be quite familiar for those of us away from Church when a loved one or a friend suggest that we return to Church. We are agitated and angry until the messenger is afraid and silenced.
But God does not give up on us, even if we had given up on him. Things happen in our life. God uses such personal events to continue to send messages to us especially in the silence of our heart, the tower from which we watch over our vineyard. Of course good events are sometimes harder to listen to as they are lost in the din of our revelry. But it is in bad events where we hear because often a crisis in life leaves us lonely and alone. In this silence we hear a lone voice, in this aloneness we become acutely aware of his presence.
Today’s message is this. If we are not already producing good fruit for him with our life, we must urgently heed the messages he is sending to us through his servants and in the events of life. His messages will never cease as he has forever but we don’t have forever as our time will run out when our life comes to an end.
When that happens we must be ready to give an account of our little vineyards. Our vineyard must have produced more of good than bad. We must leave behind a legacy of vintages of the good wine that helped build the Kingdom of God.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time