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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A], 2017 October 8, 2017

Posted on 09 Oct 2017, Pastor: Rev. Jeff McGowan

1st Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7  My friend had a vineyard.

Psalm 80  The vineyard of the Lord.

2nd Reading: Philippians 4:6-9  Have no anxiety at all…make your requests known to God…live whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just.

Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43  What will the owner of that vineyard do to those tenants?

The readings for today are challenging. The first reading from Isaiah, the Psalm and the Gospel appear to tell the same story in three different ways: “My friend had a vineyard.” What do we know about vineyards or raising grapes? Then there is the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians that seems to have nothing to do with the other two. But perhaps it is the key that can unlock our understanding of what God is saying to us today.

Think of parents with two sons. The parents gave each of the sons an expensive bicycle expecting the boys would ride the bikes responsibly and have fun. But the boys thought it was more fun riding them into each other. They got hurt, of course, and so did the bikes. The kids said, “Hey, they are our bicycles. How we use them is nobody else’s business. We’re supposed to have fun with them—well, we are.”

What would you say? What would you hope for your children? You have a role in giving them life. What will you have a right to expect of them? You give them advantages most children in the world don’t enjoy. How would you want them to use those advantages? Are we each simply a biological accident, or does God have something to do with your life? If God supports us, giving us every moment of our life, what does God have the right to expect of us? Does God expect perfection? Does God have low expectations since we are “only human?” Does God expect a decent, sincere effort? How would you measure a “decent, sincere effort” from your children?

Paul wrote: “Brothers and sisters: have no anxiety, just make your requests known to God”…and then he adds live honorably. God does understand we are “only human,” and God is merciful and forgives.  But that is not an excuse for ignoring God and any expectations.

What are the “wild grapes,” in our lives? How do we think about the “wild grapes” in our children’s lives? How do we think of the “wild grapes” in our society, in our country, in our religion? Are we given life with no accountability? That doesn’t seem to be what Jesus taught. Jesus clearly believed living honorably means it is not all about us; it is not survival of the fittest, take everything you can get and the heck with everyone else. God does have expectations.

We don’t know about vineyards and grape production, but we do know about raising children.  We are all God’s children and God surely loves us. But just as good parents have expectations, God expects us to live honorably, to make every effort to maximize the good news for God.