The imagery of the vine and vineyard is a recurring theme throughout Scriptures, as can be seen today from Isaiah, the psalm and the Gospel and it always refers to God and his people Israel. This link between the vineyard and the Jewish people would have been very familiar to the chief priests. The Gospel passage we hear today comes straight after the criticism of the chief priests and elders we heard in last week’s Gospel. Last week we heard Jesus criticise these leaders of the Jewish people for not reading the signs God had given; for not listening to John the Baptist nor to Jesus and for not repenting.
Today again, there is a fresh warning to these leaders; as Jesus lists the crimes of their forefathers and also predicts their own crimes stating that the ‘tenants’ [those charged with looking after the vineyard] would kill the Son of the landowner. Jesus makes it quite clear to them that these tenants, will be replaced by new tenants who will bear fruit. The chief priests and the elders were so focused on the rules they had imposed upon the people, that they failed to hold a mirror up to themselves. This focus also meant that they were unable or unwilling to change. These same leaders were only too happy to criticise and condemn, and their condemnation bounced straight back at them as Jesus said they would lose their ‘tenancy’.
If we believe that this message was purely for those chief priests and elders; then we are in line to suffer the same fate as they did. They pointed their fingers at others, accusing them of being sinners, forgetting that they too were sinners. Jesus calls all sinners to repent, to turn away from sin and to live according to His teachings. It is only through doing this that true happiness can be found.
I have often quoted from the late Benedictine priest Dom Placid Murray; in a Homily for this Sunday a few years ago he challenged the people [and himself] with these words – “How many messengers have we rejected: perhaps a father’s entreaties, a mother’s tears, a sister’s kindness, a teacher’s warning, a priest’s advice. How short of a harvest are we when the Lord comes to collect his produce?” 1
When I think of these questions I can remember my mum’s tears, as she urged my brothers and I not to make some of the same mistakes our Dad had made, I can remember the headteacher who warned me to be careful who I chose to call friend’s as some of the friend’s I had chosen would get me into trouble and I can remember good people at work who mentored me; encouraging good behaviours, a good work ethic and to treat people the way I would want to be treated. At times these messengers were heeded, but at other times I have turned away from some of these good principles and had to find a way back.
This was not easy, looking back I am very grateful to those who accompanied me, there are various people who I have mentioned in previous reflections who challenged me and made me think that I was not on the right path; these people were voices crying out to me in my wilderness prompting me to change my ways.
Within our Faith we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we can confess the times we have failed to live up to the message of Christ, there we seek absolution from Jesus through His priest who at that time is there present in the person of Christ. In fact, the Catechism states –
When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgement is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God’s merciful love for the sinner.CCC 1465
When we hear the way Jesus criticises the chief priests and the elders, we can think that Jesus was condemning them, in fact Jesus was very frustrated with them, if only they could have listened with their heart to the words of Jesus, then they too could have been saved. Jesus calls everyone to turn away from their wrong doings and to turn to Him.
This may be a good time for us to ask ourselves, what messages from God do I fail to listen to?
What is God trying to tell me? What do I need to do to produce the harvest God requires of me?
Our answers to these questions could have a profound effect on our own eternal future and the future of those God intends us to help to bear fruit.
[Just a reminder that we are partnering with Christians Against Poverty to bring Money Coaching sessions to St Bede’s Church on the 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd November at 7pm, all are welcome, but please book at Get to grips with your finances | CAP UK, booking helps us to allocate you a space and helps us with catering. The sessions are free and start with a free meal. If you would like more information before committing to this please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call Pam on 07833059529.]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
CCC 755: the Church as God’s vineyard
CCC 1830-1832: gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit
CCC 443: prophets are the servants, Christ is the Son
For more information on Money Coaching Money coaching | CAP UK | CAP UK
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
- The success of the Money Coaching sessions, which are coming to St Bede’s.
- The families starting the Baptism Preparation Course starting this Sunday at St Bede’s.
- Those attending the RCIA next Wednesday.
- The forthcoming Called and Gifted Programme.
1 Dom Placid Murray OSB, 100 Liturgical Homilies, [The Columba Press, Dublin, 1988]81.