The word of God for this Sunday is awaking us and telling us: look around you and see the graces you have been given and all the opportunities that are open to you. What are you doing with them? What’s the quality of your fruits, if at all you bear any? Besides, what place in your life do you give to all who have contributed to what you are today? No need for many words here; we have plenty of questions for meditation.
Bible readings Isaiah 5: 1-7 Psalm 80: 9, 12-16, 19-20 Philippians 4: 6-9 Matthew 21:33-43
Series of vineyard parables
Last Sunday we had the parable of a man with his two sons. The first son said “no” when his father asked him to go and work in the vineyard. The second was an adorable, polite son: “Yes sir” was his response when the father turned to him. But they were only beautiful, empty words –he did nothing. The son who had actually refused changed his mind and went to work. On one hand, we have our part which is a mixture of inconsistency and repentance; and on the other, God is patiently waiting for our conversion.
This Sunday another parable of the vineyard is proposed to us, especially dealing with the fruits produced. But it’s the frustration that we find both in the first reading and in the gospel. Such disappointment isn’t just a biblical story of ancient times –unfortunately, it’s part of our daily life even today. Examples abound.
Sour fruits in daily life
Disillusionment is one of the pains we suffer in relationships. You make an effort to cherish and to build mutual trust in the relationship; you do all that in the hope of strengthening the bonds. Alas, you don’t always get desired fruits. To your disillusionment, you realise that the other person not only is he lacking in making an effort but he may even be abusing your trust. That’s true for intimate relationships like between couples, in the family between parents and children, and also in business or professional relationships. And because of that some people are so disappointed that they just can’t trust any more. They hesitate to try again, afraid of being let down again.
We see such let-down in our own relationship with God, like it’s reported in the readings.
Love relationship turns sour
In the first reading Isaiah speaks in the poetic language, singing a love song of betrayed partner. The details of the attention and care that the farmer has given to his vineyard just show how much God has cherished his people Israel with love. But the response he got wasn’t always encouraging. There are times when he reaped sour grapes.
Similarly, in the Gospel we have the master who does all there’s to be done in order to be assured of a good production. In a gesture of trust, he entrusts vineyard to tenants and he withdraws himself –goes on a journey. When the harvest time comes, it’s normal that he should have his part of the produce. But the servants whom he sends are mistreated, even killed. The tenants take the pleasure to kill even the son whom the master finally sends. By killing his son the tenants not only deny the master of his part but they claim the ownership of the property since they get rid of the heir. They pretend to be masters –total abuse of trust.
Need for focus
I can imagine, readings like these ones can be a pinch in a fresh wound, evoking similar disappointments we may have suffered in life. Yet, it may not be fair for us to lose the sense of these readings for us. They are not meant whip others for their infidelity or for the pain they may have caused us, rather, they call us to make our personal introspection. We too, in one way or another we may have let others down: God, family members, friends…
It’s time to think about what I have been entrusted with; what do I do with them? What fruit am I bearing?
As I reflect on these readings, here’s the bible passage that pops up in my mind: “What shall I render to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” (Psalm 116:12).
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