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I was very glad to get away the other week there for a break with my sister, Claire, and brother-in-law, Michael, to Murcia in Spain.  Although the place we go to is near Benidorm and all the holiday resorts of eastern Spain, the place we go to is still surrounded by traditional Spanish towns and villages and it’s that aspect that makes it good for me as I go back to my time living in Spain as a seminarian and am able to converse in the local lingo.  Each day of our holiday we would go for a ‘spin’ in the car and, as we did so, we passed by various fields and crops.  Unlike other areas of Spain, there were only a few vineyards where the grapes were just coming to harvest.  However, where there was a lack of grapes, there was an abundance of olive and orange trees growing …..  This all came back to my mind during this past week as the readings today talk of vineyards, fruitfulness and harvest.

 

 

 

The Isaiah reading says: “Let me sing to my friend the song of his love for his vineyard.”  And in the Gospel we are told a parable where the vineyard is left to rack and ruin as the servants looking after the vineyard are beaten, stoned and killed.  Behind these Bible images is the idea that the vineyard represents the world community, that God himself is the owner of the vineyard and that he has entrusted to us the care of the vineyard and the world.  As we listen to this image unfolding for us, we are invited to reflect on whether we are the ones who take care of or mistreat the world that God has given us.

 

 

 

In fact there is a direct link between the Isaiah reading and the Gospel today, in that they both show great care given to the Vineyard.  Isaiah says “he dug the soil, cleared it of stones, and planted choice vines in it.”  Then Matthew’s Gospel passage says “there was a landowner who planted a vineyard, fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and leased it to tenants.”  Both images speak of great care given to the vineyard but there is one essential difference between the two passages: Isaiah speaks of God’s Vineyard (God’s world) being destroyed; whereas the Gospel passage speaks more about the people who were doing the destruction, speaks of the tenants who thrashed, stoned and killed the servants.  We’ve got to remember that the Parable today is within Matthew’s Gospel and Matthew’s audience was mainly the Jewish community.  As we know he had great criticism for the religious and political leaders of first century Palestine.  So today’s Gospel speaks of the deceit, the mistrust and the disrespect shown by those who should have known better.  By using this image, Matthew wanted his community to reflect that their leaders should not be showing such disrespect because what they have been entrusted with is God’s Vineyard, God’s property, God’s world.

 

 

 

In our daily lives you and I often get wrapped up in our own plans and our own self-importance.  We think that what WE can do is central.  Today we are reminded that we have been given a treasure, we hold in our hands and in our hearts God’s world and God’s people that we do not merit by our own works.  The downside today is that we might reflect that WE are the ones who have misused God’s property and God’s vineyard by the way we have treated the world and the way we relate to friends and family.  Yet I think the real fruitfulness of today is that we might reflect to ourselves “Look, this world is less to do with what I can do for myself and for MY world.”  It is more to do with what God can do in me.  Less about me, more about God.

 

 

 

Today you and I are challenged – let the fruitfulness of God’s vineyard be seen in you, not through your own efforts but through what God’s love, God’s peace, God’s hope can do within you.

 

 

 

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