October 5th, 2014 – Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

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The Second Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium 1964), spoke beautifully of the community of Christ’s disciples as God’s vineyard, with Christ as the true vine. Such imagery is rooted in biblical passages such as those we read today: the prophetic writing about God’s vineyard (First Reading) and the parable of the wicked tenants (Gospel). However, unlike Vatican ll’s description of the church, today’s passage are more than a little ominous.

Both Isaiah’s lesson and the parable describe a failure. Isaiah sings of a vineyard, “the house of Israel,” that fails to produce fruit; Jesus tells of tenants who withhold from the vineyard owner what is rightfully his. Jesus’ final words deliver a crushing blow to his oppo-nents. “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

Though Jesus was addressing his adversaries among the “chief priests and the elders,’ his living word speaks to us, and so we must ask: How will we know that we are producing fruit worthy of God’s reign? What if we fail? Saint Paul in the Second Reading allays our fears: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything…make your requests known to God.” There we will find “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

Reflecting upon today’s Gospel can certainly be thought provoking: Jesus gives the impression that God has forsaken the covenant with the Jewish people and given it to someone else. Catholic teaching, however, affirms that God’s covenant with Israel endures.