27th Sunday: The Vineyard Scenario

Vineyards are one of the most powerful and pervasive symbols in the Bible, with lots of stories involving them variously in both testaments. The vineyard scenario is rich and malleable, with changes able to be rung easily. Today Isaiah’s vineyard song, the psalm snippet, and Jesus’ parable all work off the notion of God as gardener/vintner, laboring with high hopes, but then disappointed with "our" response. Disappointment turns to anger and vindictiveness, and the owner dismantles his work, breaking it apart with the same energy he used to build it, abandoning, evicting or destroying the tenants. In the language of nonviolent negotiation, God/the gardener would be asked to identify and articulate his own need before lashing out to accuse and scold. Sitting back in his chair, God might, after a pause to reflect, quote the Song of Songs on the vineyard and say that what he really feels is sadness that we are not able to share in that aspect of vineyard relatedness. Or Jesus, anticipating his eve-of-arrest reflection, might say how much the vine wants to have all its branches, will miss them if they lop themselves off. As hearers of these three stories, we might be asked to ponder our own need and tendency to be unco-operative vines or grapes. We might attempt to answer for ancient Israel, at whom these stories are directed; but we would be redirected to speak for ourselves: What prevents us from joyously choosing to hang out in the vineyard, to thrive on all that is offered there? If Jesus showed up in our group (family, community, local congregation, Church), strumming his guitar (after the Isaiah singer) and invited us to sing with him, what verses would emerge--from us, from him, from our companions? Barbara Green, O.P.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.
Texas bishops: "No one -- the government, private individuals or organizations -- should be forced to be complicit in abortion."
Catholic News ServiceOctober 23, 2017
It is time for the laity to speak out and act like true disciples of Christ in spreading the joy of the Gospel. 
Thomas J. ReeseOctober 23, 2017
Pope Francis speaks from the Vatican as he addresses Canadian youths in a video message that was included in a Salt and Light Television program on Oct. 22 (CNS photo/courtesy Holy See Press Office).
“The world, the church, are in need of courageous young people, who are not cowed in the face of difficulties," the pope said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 23, 2017
Men walk near destroyed buildings as thousands of Somalis gathered to pray at the site of the country's deadliest attack and to mourn hundreds of victims at the site of the attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 20. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Mogadishu was rocked to its core on Oct. 14 by a truck bombing that left 358 dead and hundreds wounded. The missing are still being sifted for among the scorched rubble.
Kevin ClarkeOctober 23, 2017