“Once again, O Lord of hosts, look down from heaven and see; take care of this vine.”
by Sister Joseph Fennimore, OSB
The vineyard in the readings for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time symbolize several figures. In the reading from Isaiah it means the people of Israel, the nation God had chosen to be his own. This people rejected God many times even though God’s care was abundant and consistent.
In the gospel reading of St. Matthew again the vineyard is the Jewish nation, which refused to accept Jesus, the Son sent by the Father, as their Savior. They had refused to listen to God’s spokesmen, the prophets, sent ahead of Jesus. They silenced these voices of God by various ways. Finally, they killed the Son so they could attain earthly property, momentary riches. This was not the plan of God. Because of their refusal to plant and cultivate the vineyard, foster the growth of grapes, and work for a bountiful harvest for the landowner they were rejected, thrown out. The land was given to others who would cultivate and nourish it in order to attain a great harvest.
This vineyard also symbolizes the eternal kingdom of God who has planted the seed of his kingdom here on earth. God has asked his people, through his disciples and teachers of the Church to cultivate and nourish the growth of this kingdom and to increase this growth through the development of a loving community.
Finally, one can find the symbol of a personal vineyard in the Gospel passage of Matthew. Each one is called to cultivate his or her own vineyard so that it bears fruit for the Kingdom of God. In the reading from the Letter to the Philippians St. Paul enumerates tools that will build and feed one’s kingdom. Take what is honorable, just, gracious, and with prayer, petition and thanksgiving, plant, fertilize, and cultivate one’s kingdom.
From the Rule of St. Benedict
“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom.” Rule of Benedict, Prologue, vs. 21
“I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord, to go and bear fruit that will remain.”
Cf. John 15:16