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Sunday, October 4, 2020

A Homily - The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 5:1-7 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):9, 12-16, 19-20 ©

Second Reading – Philippians 4:6-9 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:16

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:33 - 43 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

Be mindful of the prophet’s words, and know this:

God, the creator of the universe, God does not directly intervene in the affairs of human beings, but nevertheless there is an intention behind creation and God is pulling all of us toward God’s desired end.

God wills that we be good and just, loving and kind, humble and accepting, but God does not create us with these qualities fully matured, preferring that we develop them naturally throughout the course of our lives.

The prophet likens humanity to a vineyard:

In one generation a vineyard will produce beautiful fruit, in another generation it will be sour.

A single vine in the vineyard will produce fruit of mixed quality, some branches will dry up and wither, while others go on to produce a wonderful bounty.

In one year a vineyard will go to rot, in another it will be restored.

Briar patches and thorns may impede the vine in one season, while at the same time returning vitality to the soil.

This is the way of things, and it is the way of all human  institutions, it is the way of civilization, and the Church is not excepted from this rule.

Be mindful of the writings of the psalmist, the psalmist  frequently misunderstands how historical events unfold in relation to the will of God.

God did not rescue the Israelites from Egypt. God did not send the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Ptolemy’s, or the Romans. God did not destroy the temples, and God will not protect you, or show you favor in this world no matter how fervently you pray.

Know this!

God is the shepherd of all people, not of Israel only.

God does not reside on a throne and God is not a general who comes at the head of an army. When we imagine God thus we do a disservice to the divine.

God’s face shines on everyone, look for it in the face of your neighbor, in the face of your enemy, in the faces of those who persecute you.

It is up to us, God’s children, to love, to show mercy, and to care for those who are downtrodden.

It is the desire of God that all people be well and happy. God desires that we be tolerant of one another and care for one another, that we serve the happiness of our neighbors with a spirit of charity. Therein rests the peace of God, in the work of a servant

Meditate on what is true, to the truth that ennobles us and is rooted in love. Commit yourself to what is good, known by the good fruit that goodness bears and the benefit that is derived in the community from it.

Be mindful of those who seek honors, speak of virtue and love praise, these are good and lofty things, but we are easily deceived by them and easily deceived for them.

Know this!

The greatest commandment is love, and love is the whole of the law.

To love one another, to give of one’s self to another in love, there is no greater gift.

The love that we are called to is not the love we call desire, though to desire and be desired is an experience of great joy.

We are called to move past desire and to move past the love we have for family and friends, because to love those nearest to us is only a short extension of the love we have for ourselves, seeing ourselves in the faces of our mothers and fathers, seeing our ambitions as tied to the ambitions of our friends. It is good to love in this capacity but we are called to love in a greater capacity than that.

We are called to love to the point of selflessness, to love even those who are against us, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have hurt us and done us harm, to feed the stranger and protect them…to do so out of love.

This is the great commandment.

Consider the Gospel for today, it is a piece of pure propaganda. It is an apology.

It is an attempt by the writers of Matthew’s Gospel, written in the first generation after the Roman conquest of Palestine and the destruction of the Temple, to explain to a largely Jewish audience, the divine purpose behind those events.

While Matthew’s community was predominately Jewish, there were gentile converts among them, and the warning to the readership is this: if you do not give up your insistence on retaining your distinctively Jewish traditions, you will be destroyed and the gentiles among you will take your place a heirs to the promises that God made to your ancestors.

The narrative is one that the writers of Matthew borrowed from the early prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, whose books were also written in the apologetic mode, to explain the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians, the destruction of Judea by the Babylonians and the invasion of the Holy Land by Antiochus Epiphanes.

The basic move that all of these writers make is to explain current events through the lens of past events. In this case they are putting a prophecy in Jesus’ mouth to explain the Roman invasion of Palestine and the destruction of the temple, along with the ongoing persecution of the Jewish people.

The lesson they intended to impart is this:

Everything unfolds according to God’s plan. If you resist God’s plan you will be destroyed and all of your hopes will be dashed. It has happened before and it will happen again.

Be mindful.

All good things come from God.

Nothing you have belongs to you, it can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Listen to me now, this reading is flawed.

 

First Reading – Isaiah 5:1-7 ©

Against the Lord’s Vineyard

 

Let me sing to my friend the song of his love for his vineyard.

My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.

He dug the soil, cleared it of stones and planted choice vines in it.

In the middle he built a tower, he dug a press there too.

He expected it to yield grapes, but sour grapes were all that it gave.

And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, I ask you to judge between my vineyard and me.

What could I have done for my vineyard that I have not done?

I expected it to yield grapes.

Why did it yield sour grapes instead?

Very well, I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge for it to be grazed on, and knock down its wall for it to be trampled on.

I will lay it waste, unpruned, undug; overgrown by the briar and the thorn.

I will command the clouds to rain no rain on it.

Yes, the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah that chosen plant.

He expected justice, but found bloodshed, integrity, but only a cry of distress.

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):9, 12-16, 19-20 ©


The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

 

You brought a vine out of Egypt;

  to plant it you drove out the nations.

It stretched out its branches to the sea,

  to the Great River it stretched out its shoots.

 

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

 

Then why have you broken down its walls?

  It is plucked by all who pass by.

It is ravaged by the boar of the forest,

  devoured by the beasts of the field.

 

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

 

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,

  look down from heaven and see.

Visit this vine and protect it,

  the vine your right hand has planted.

 

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

 

And we shall never forsake you again;

  give us life that we may call upon your name.

God of hosts, bring us back;

  let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

 

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

 

Second Reading – Philippians 4:6-9 ©

If there is Anything You Need, Pray For It.


There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learnt from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you.


Gospel Acclamation  Jn15:15

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

I call you friends, says the Lord, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.

Alleluia!

 

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:16

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

I chose you from the world to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last, says the Lord.

Alleluia!

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:33 - 43 ©

This is the Landlord's Heir: Come, Let Us Kill Him

 

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:


It was the stone rejected by the builders

that became the keystone.

This was the Lord’s doing

and it is wonderful to see?

 

‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’

 

The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)



 

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