October 4: 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm: 80; 2. Philippians 4:6-9; Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43.
Much in these readings speaks of great activity; activity that is sometimes fruitless. These passages, however, mostly aim to encourage the production of fruit that results from good and careful land management.
In Isaiah’s verses, the vineyard stands in full view. It is that piece of land that normally produces an abundant harvest, because it has been meticulously managed and cultivated. But, on occasion, the opposite may be the case. This sad result is the basis on which Isaiah wishes to remark upon Israel’s failed relationship with God. Despite immense ongoing efforts to instruct and care for Israel, they have been wilfully uncooperative in their observance of what God decreed would be in their best interests. The fate of the unproductive vineyard is therefore a clever way of warning Israel to turn things around.
Paul’s advice to the Philippians is much more positive in tone. His sound, practical instructions are a recipe for successful living as members of God’s Church community. His main point is clear. He is proposing that the Philippians adopt his strategy for achieving a healthy result, one they are expected to produce. That standard demands that they live ever conscious of all the good instruction they have received.
The Gospel parable clearly references Isaiah’s warning to Israel in today’s first reading. Again, vineyard management is in focus. In the wake of various failed attempts to collect the fruits of the grape harvest, the landowner had no other choice but to remove the tenants and find new ones. Being a parable about the kingdom of God, its message is clear. All believers must dutifully produce the required fruits of their labours.
With the help today of Isaiah, Paul and Matthew, we see how necessary it is to be diligent and keen to produce the fruits rightly expected by our God.