Church aisle facing the altar

Sunday Soundbite for October 8, 2017

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A

October 8, 2017

 

If the Sacred Scriptures have a favorite image—today’s Sunday Mass readings have it: a beautiful vineyard. Hello, I’m Franciscan Father Greg Friedman, with the Sunday Soundbite for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

I’ve never had the chance to visit the Holy Land, but I’d love to, and one thing I’d like to see is a typical vineyard—much like the ones described in today’s Scripture readings by Isaiah, the psalmist, and Jesus.  All three paint vivid pictures of vineyards, lush with grapevines and furnished with protective walls, and the wine press ready to turn out great-tasting wine. As a boy, my grandfather Friedman had grapevines and my grandfather Bianchi had the wine press. I don’t think they ever got together on wine-making, but my childhood memories supply the pictures I need to understand today’s Scriptures.

We are God’s vineyard. The Biblical stories make this clear. In some versions, the very productivity of the vineyard stands for how God’s people fail to make use of the care and nurturing God lavishes on us.  In the Gospel, it’s the caretakers of the vineyard who are on the spot—the tenant farmers who fail to respect the owner’s rights and turn on his servants and his son. For Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, the story becomes a painful story of rejection that echoes the bitter memories of the early Church, reflecting on how some of God’s own people rejected the message of salvation.

Powerful images with a powerful message of God’s love, human response, and a warning for us who hear these stories in this Sunday’s liturgy.