Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - October 4, 2020
Once again, O Lord of hosts, look down from heaven and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted, the son of man whom you yourself made strong. (Psalm 80:15)
On this Twenty-Seventh Sunday of the Year, the prayerful words of the Responsorial Psalm 80 provide the lens by which we see and better understand our situation before God. The vineyard image is once again given to us to remind us of God’s presence and activity in our lives. The prophecy of Isaiah and his Song of the Lord’s Vineyard gives way to Jesus’ Parable of the Vineyard. Both the first reading and the Gospel make it clear that while God has given good soil, choice vines, protective hedges, wine presses, and a watchtower, the vineyards did not produce the good fruit God expected. The result is that either the fruitful vineyard goes to ruin, or the tenants lose their lives, and the vineyard is given to others who will produce good fruit.
On the one hand, the scriptures are an indictment on Israel's leadership in the days of Isaiah and Jesus. On the other hand, the scriptures remind us that God does the vineyard's real work, and fruitfulness comes from God’s Spirit working in us and through us. The fruit of God’s Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. This, in turn, finds expression of what is true, what is honorable, what is just, what is pure, what is lovely, what is gracious, excellent, and worthy of praise – as St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading.
We want to notice the way the Gospel passage that tells us about the son the tenants killed foreshadows Jesus’ death at the hands of the authorities. In citing the words of Psalm 118, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes,” Jesus makes it clear that his death is not the end. Through Jesus’ resurrection, something new is being built by God that finds its cornerstone, foundation, and support in Jesus. As it begins to find its expression in the Church, the Kingdom of God is the place where disciples of Christ – you and I, under God’s care – can be fruitful.
Today, let us once again call on the Lord from whatever corner of the vineyard we find ourselves. Let us pray that He will continue to help us till His soil and plant His seeds so that His harvest will be one of peace, justice, and truth for us all!