Deacon Michael's Homily for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time - October 4, 2020

Here's my homily for the 27th Sunday or Ordinary time reflecting on vineyards and what we are called to these days in the those that we are accounatble for.

You can read the Sunday readings on which it is based can be found HERE

I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions below ... 

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One of my indulgences in life is that I like a glass of good wine. 

We have actually joined a wine club, something I thought we’d never do. 

But it’s been a revelation.

We have bought and tasted wines that we would never have tried on our own or even known to buy.

It’s all given me a great appreciation for vineyards and winemakers and what can come when you put the two together. 

It’s also give me a deeper sense of the stories about vineyards and their care

...like the ones in today’s readings.

In our first instance the Hebrew prophet Isaiah has taken a happy festival song about a vineyard

...and made it a jibe about the Israeilites’ stewardship of the vineyard that God had given them

...the Promised Land of Israel, and all its associated covenant promises.

Why, when God had done that all God could do for the Israelites to sustain  them did their Vineyard, did Israel produce sour grapes

... and presumably not very good wine?

The classic theology of the Hebrew Scriptures would attribute this to the Israelites lack of fidelity, not taking care and so losing the vision offered through their Covenant with God. 

Matthew's Gospel takes this same image to tell a similar story.

The owner is God.

The vineyard again is Israel and its covenant promises. 

The tenants its religious leaders charged with its care.

The owner’s servants sent to rightly receive the vineyard’s produce, the Hebrew prophets who were beaten, killed and stoned for calling the tenants to account.

The son, is of course Jesus, Messiah, and the murder, his crucifixion. 

And those others, that inherit the vineyard, the followers of the son. 

Once again, lack of fidelity, failure of vision leading to loss. 

These themes offer timely perspective for us when looking out at 

...the vineyards we inhabit and have some responsibility for 

...our own nation and church. 

Each has its real challenges these days. 

Take this week’s Presidential debate. 

Quite apart from any analysis of who may have done better or worse 

...many have observed the event reflected an alarming decline in respect, civility and responsibility in our nation’s overall civic and public culture

...things which make our nation’s proud tradition of representative self-government workable.

Others have observed that at such a time of stress and strain, the voice of the Church is one should to elevate to our vision and standards.

But in an increasingly secular culture fewer people care about what religious folks say

...and some seem more part of the problem.

The voice of our own Church is undercut by  

...many self-inflicted wounds 

...wounds that have been inflicted on its own credibility in addition to its own children.

So what are you and I to do in this time in these vineyards where we find ourselves?

It all seems so big and beyond us. 

Well, today’s Gospel points to the path.

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done and it is wonderful in our eyes.”

So we are to embrace the “builders” in the parable rejected.

Which means that we need to embrace fidelity and commitment to our own faith in Jesus Christ and his Gospel

...right where we are.

We need to hold on tighter to our faith, commit to it,  and try to live it even more so.

The basics of this are clear. 

We know what to do. 

We’ve heard it all many times. 

Jesus Christ came to testify to the truth

...and so should we. 

So...honor and embrace the truth and honesty. 

Reject lies and falsehoods as unworthy, especially those offered self-servingly by the slick and powerful

...and those we similarly often tell ourselves.

Jesus laid down his life out of love for others. 

So...be willing to sacrifice what you have for others, seeing the needs of others as more important than our own.  

Care for the poor, the ill and the forgotten...because they were dear to the Lord.

Mourn with those who mourn.

Pursue what is right and just in all we do. 

Bring reconciliation and not further division to where we find ourselves. 

Reject retaliation, revenge and violence.

Don’t look to material things and passing sense pleasures as any ultimate comfort and security...it's useless.

Treat others with the charity we ourselves would wish to be treated. 

And on and on

...doing it all with a sense of humility

...doing it not because we are any better or worthy than anyone else

...because we aren’t 

...but because that is what it means to be faithful and we need to be so

...and to give witness to what we believe.

These are what you and I can offer to our particular corners of the nation and church

...helping them to be fruitful vineyards can be fruitful vineyards 

...yielding good grapes and good wine

...fruit of the vine and work of human hands that we can in gratitude offer back to God...with a clear conscience.