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Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A

Homily Suggestions:

Is 5:1-7
Phil 4:6-9
Mt 21:33-43

Overview: The First Reading and Gospel passage assigned to this Sunday talk about the vineyard of the Lord, and the fact that those to whom the vineyard was entrusted did not properly respond to the Lord or yield the fruit for which he was looking. Instead, they broke his covenant, killed his prophets and eventually his Son, and had the vineyard taken away from them.

Reflection: God entered into a covenant of Life with his people from of old, and the prophets spoke untiringly of the demands of that covenant, both in regard to what the people owed God and what they owe one another. Those who worshipped God were to help their neighbor; those who believed in the God who rescued them were bound to care for and rescue one another. The failure to do this led to such rebukes as are found in Isaiah 1. The theme carries over into Isaiah 5, today’s first reading.

The Gospel parable refers, historically, to the history of God’s people killing the prophets, who urged them not to worship false gods or make covenants with death. A good summary of the history of the people’s rejection of the covenant is found in Psalm 106. God’s people, having inherited the Promised Land, still had to do battle with the foreign nations around them. They were told not to adopt the practices of those people, for they did not know the true God. God’s people, however, did mingle with these other nations and even joined in their rituals. The most grievous of the sins of God’s people was when, in imitation of the pagan nations, “they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters” (Ps. 106:37-38). Rather than bearing the fruit of life, rooted in true worship, they bore the fruit of death, rooted in false worship.

True worship, instead, would have led the people to embrace the prophets’ admonitions to “do justice, redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow” (Is. 1:17). As James puts it, “Looking after orphans and widows in their distress…makes for pure worship before our God and Father” (James 1:27). Those most defenseless in our midst today are the unborn.

Application: This line of thought can then be applied to us, first and foremost in that we are entrusted with a vineyard, too, which is the new and everlasting Covenant in the blood of Christ. In the bonds of that Covenant, God entrusts us to the care of one another. United in his Spirit, we are called to live out the very communion that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This enables us to give ourselves away for each other, just as the three Persons of the Trinity do, and just as Jesus did on the cross. This is the foundation of the authentic unity of the human family.

The vineyard we have here in the United States, in particular, entrusts us with profound gifts of freedom. We can shape our own culture and government. God asks us to bear fruits of life rather than to abuse our freedom with perversions of “choice” that end up taking life.

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