Isaiah 5: 1-7 – Philippians 4: 6-9 – Matthew 21: 33-43
As St. Matthew recorded the parable of Jesus that we heard today, it was addressed in a very direct way, to the leaders of the Jewish society of that time. But we also understand that God speaks to us here and now through these inspired writings of the Scriptures. Thus we can ask ourselves, how do we find meaning for ourselves from what is being said, particularly along with the beautiful poetry of Isaiah which we also heard.
One consideration is that in the imagery of both passages we are told of the relationship God seeks with us. The deep love, the concern, the cultivation of all of us describes how God desires to relate to us. How is it, then, that we are to react and to respond? I have mention on numerous occasions that in this gift of life we have received, there are man “opportunities” presented to us. These are many opportunities to grow and to develop and thus to yield a rich and bountiful harvest in our lives.
Isaiah describes the Israelites of old as well as us, as a vineyard. All of us and each of us is like a grapevine that needs constant care and attention. It needs proper weather as well a careful cultivation in order to yield a good harvest. Like the owner of the vineyard, God’s effort is constant and continuous. All that can be done has been done. But, for some reason, the vine failed. It did not respond. The owner of the vineyard, however, God in this imagery, will try once again.
In the story told by Jesus, the owner does what he can in order to gain back what is due to him.. But the workers constantly reject the owner’s efforts. The workers, in the enthusiasm of their rebellion, foolishly perceive themselves as entitled to take over ownership of the vineyard. Their response was contrary to the owner’s efforts, as can often reject God’s love for us in the choices we make. They do not succeed and bring on their own destruction.
In our human experience of relationships, in order to succeed, the efforts must be mutual. There are man opportunities for the relationship to deepen and to grow. But the effort cannot be made only by one party. One cannot be active while the other is passive. There must be co-operation, a working together that is present and active in both. So it is in our relationship with God.
It is in the words of Saint Paul that we have also heard today that we are given insight into how we are to respond to God. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent, praiseworthy – these are the qualities that are to mark our lives. Choosing thee are the opportunities given to us to gain a bountiful harvest in how we live. Lives that are lived in this way are lives that truly reflect and reveal a deep commitment to and a response to our good and gracious God.