Today we reflect on the vineyard of the Lord. God’s kingdom can be compared to a vineyard, blossoming and blooming at the time of harvest. However, for a bountiful harvest to take place the vineyard’s workers need to be attuned to the needs of the crop – does it need more nutrition? Is it getting enough sunlight and water for growth? Is it being attacked by any pests?
The vineyard’s workers are responsible for a bountiful crop, and a failure to bring about good fruit will be blamed on their negligence and ignorance. The prophet Isaiah speaks of a vineyard. The area that the vineyard was located in was fertile, the choicest vines were planted, there was a winepress that was made, and even a watchtower was built to make sure that everything was growing according to season. However, at the time of harvest, only sour grapes were yielded! How would we feel if we owned a vineyard, took great care of it and it yielded fruit that spoiled? There would be disappointment, regret at the money invested, anger at the time wasted, and many other negative emotions felt. Will anyone be satisfied with a bad crop or a bad result, especially when the opposite is expected?
In the Gospel Proclamation, we see the Lord Jesus sharing the parable of the landowner who planted a vineyard. As in the firstreading, we see the landowner making great efforts to prepare his vineyard – he puts a fence around it, digs a hole for the winepress, builds a watchtower and then hands over the land to tenants.In this instance, it is not that bad fruit is yielded, but bad stewardship is seen. The tenants want to grab what does not rightfully belong to them, and as a result, rob the inheritance of the landowner. They choose prosperity as their source of happiness and choose it by any means necessary – they beat, stone and kill those who try to take away what they believe is theirs.
As I reflect on this reading, I am reminded of the story of Adam and Eve, who acted quite similarly to the tenants in the parable. They had the freedom to choose from any tree in the garden, but the devil whispered a lie in their ears and they thirsted for more knowledge.
Adam and Eve were the original tenants in the story of creation. What was given to them by the landowner, God Himself, as what was meant to be a beautiful place of union, became a place of sin and ultimately led to their banishment from what was meant to be their home and their life.
However, all is not lost, for we have within us the Redeemer of the world. His death and resurrection has bought back paradise to us, and for that, we have every reason to rejoice. The prosperity of a bountiful harvest belongs to the workers of the vineyard, and the landowner is more than willing to share this great gift.
To make this a reality, St. Paul reminds us of a kingdom principle that is often forgotten. “Do not be anxious about anything.” It seems redundant to tell an owner of a vineyard who has just come across an entire field of sour grapes, not to be anxious – but there is more that we have to do.
Instead of being anxious, we pray about everything. Are our spouses not fulfilling our expectations? Pray. Are our children turning away from the path of righteousness? Pray. Are our jobs demanding that we live a lifestyle contrary to the word of God? Pray! It is then that the peace of God, brought down by the Holy Spirit, will guard our hearts and minds against all storms and battles of life.
Bad fruit is a part of our lives. We are bound to come across people who rub us the wrong way, situations that cause pain, sicknesses that seem like immovable mountains in our lives, debts that continue to rise, loneliness, rejection, anxiety – all of it is a part of our lives, but how we deal with it shows us the final produce of our vineyard. If we pray about everything, the peace of God will descend in the midst of the turbulence. If we pray about nothing, the bad fruit sown into our lives and the lives of our children and their children will continue to spread its seed for years to come.
“The God of peace” is a promise given to us, and we claim it by faith, trusting in the unfailing goodness of God, knowing that it is He who will produce a bountiful harvest in our lives. Let us ask for the grace to become humble workers in His kingdom and one day we will receive the crown of eternal life.
Prayer: Abba Father, let the world know You through me. Amen.