Homily for the twenty-seventh Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 21:33-43
Father Daniel Meynen
" 'Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, "They will respect my son." But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance." And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?' They said to him, 'He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.'
"Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the scriptures: "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes"? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.' "
" 'Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country.' "
It is two days before the celebration of Passover by Jesus and his disciples. Soon Jesus will say: "I am the vine, you are the branches." (Jn. 15:5) Men, women, all the human beings who are called to become disciples of Christ, all those who are but one with Christ, these are the vine and the branches: when Jesus speaks of the vine, he also intends to speak of the vine-growers, and vice versa. So when Jesus speaks of the fruit of the vine, he also intends to speak of the fruits produced by the men and women who are in his service, or who at least seem to be in his service...
For someone can be in the service of a employer and, in reality, not carry out what the employer has commanded that person to do. This is true, above all, when the employer is absent... You know the saying: when the cat's away, the mice will play! For, indeed, Jesus said: "He let it out to tenants, and went into another country." Truly, is this not a good employer? Have you ever seen one as good as this? When you are at work, whether in a factory or in an office, are there not supervisors and managers who verify whether or not you are indeed doing the work assigned to you? This is not the case here.
This householder is God the Father, our Father in Heaven! He is good, so good that he lets us work in his vineyard, fully trusting us! God trusts us! How incredible! Think of the trust that God placed in Saint Joseph: God entrusted to him his own Son, along with Mary his Mother! And today, God puts his trust in the Pope, entrusting to him all of his sons and daughters throughout the whole world! How marvelous! And, to each one of us individually, God has entrusted, first, our soul and our entire person, but also everyone who makes up our family! Let us not disappoint our God by betraying the trust he has placed in us!
" 'When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them.' "
God trusts us: this is what he wants, this is what he has always wanted from all eternity. God had placed his trust in the man and woman in the terrestrial Paradise. But, the devil was there to tempt first the woman, and then the man; and both of them, the man and the woman, betrayed the trust that God had placed in them. They sinned against God, and God no longer trusted them...
"The season of fruit drew near." (Mt. 21:34) God had promised a Messiah ever since the first sin of mankind, but he had not yet chosen him. It was only later that the time of the grape harvest had finally arrived, that is, the time when God chose, not yet a Messiah, but the people from whom he would spring: the Jewish People, the chosen People.
To know if the time had come to choose the Messiah, or rather - since God knows all - to manifest to men that the time of the choosing of the Messiah had not yet come, God sent Prophets, servants of the householder, who, unfortunately since the time had not yet come, were killed and thus prevented from harvesting the fruits of the householder's vine...
To the Jewish People, God had sent Prophets... But the People of God did not believe in the Prophets of God: the People of God did not trust God! What a tragic outcome! God trusted man, and man did not trust God! And we, today, we who are the New People of God, do we truly trust God? Do we believe what today's Prophets say?
" 'Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.' "
What is the inheritance of the Son of God? What is it if not grace? What can be compared to the fruit of the vine, what is it that makes us spiritually drunk, if not grace, that is, the Love of God? Have we not seen the inhabitants of Jerusalem comparing the Apostles to drunken men on the day that the Holy Spirit filled them with divine grace at Pentecost? So this is the inheritance of God: grace.
But if the grace of God is a good that man possesses, it is so only insofar as man gives thanks (renders grace) to God: for grace is destined to make us adoptive sons of the Father, sons in the Son, men and women united to Christ in the Holy Spirit. Grace, in order for it to be possessed by man, must be returned to God: in order to be a child of God, man must give thanks (render grace) to God!
So, any attempt to steal the inheritance of God, which is grace, positively prevents the thief from becoming a child of God: "To him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away." (Lk. 8:18) This is why Jesus ended his discourse with the following words: "The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it."
Let us give thanks (render grace) to God for each day of our life! Above all, let us give thanks (render grace) to him when we receive him within us in the Holy Eucharist! Through Mary, may our life be a continual thanksgiving! Amen!
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