Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary TimeA

Reading 1 (Isa 5:1-7)

Let me now sing of my friend,
my friend's song concerning his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;
he spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he looked for the crop of grapes,
but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I had not done?
Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes,
did it bring forth wild grapes?
Now, I will let you know
what I mean to do with my vineyard:
take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled!
Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to send rain upon it.
The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his cherished plant;
he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry!

Reading 2 (Phi 4:6-9)

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

Gospel (Mt 21:33-43)

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
"Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
'They will respect my son.'
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
'This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.'
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?"
They answered him,
"He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times."
Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit."

 


I. THEME: The vineyard of God

            In life, no one is so naive to keep investing on what brought bad result for them; but will invest on what will yield good rerult. God also acts the same. He invested in men, He equipped for them all necessary things to yield good result and He is patient to wait for them. If people did not only yield good result, but also brought bad one, He will take away all gifts and grace; and give to those who are able to bear good fruits for Him.

            Today first reading and the Gospel show us God’s ways of investment through two interesting stories of the vineyards. The first reading paid attention to the wild grapes which the vineyard yielded, while the Gospel emphasized the tenants’ wicked treatments for the landowner’s only son and servants. The second reading paid attention to good results and the way to yield them.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?

            The prophet Isaiah who lived on the 8th BC, used the story of the vineyard to highlight the relationship between God and the Israelites, and whatever will come due to this sour relationship. The landowner is God Himself, the vineyard is the Israelites, the choicest vines are the people of Judah.

            In agriculture, fertile land and seeds (vines) are two main factors to decide a harvest. The landowner had a fertile land on a hillside and the choicest vines to plant. He spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines. Within it he built a watchtower to prevent destroyment from outside, and hewed out a wine press to prepare for a harvest. Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes. He did not understand what is the reason for this. The prophet put out a question: “Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard: What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? Facing this unwanted result, the landowner decided to destroy completely his vineyard and let it become a wild land.

           

            God led the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, the land of milk and honey. He gave His beloved tribe, Judah, power to govern the Israelites in justice and love. All what are necessary to achieve that God had prepared for them: the Ten Commandments, the Temple, prophets, leaders. But the result was totally opposite with what God wished for, “He looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!”

            We can see these unjustice happened many times in the Israel history. For examples, in the first Book of Kings, chapter 21, reported the event of King Ahab, who listened to the wicked plan of Jezebel, his foreign wife, to usurp Nabod’s vineyard by killing him. In the second Book of Kings, chapter 11, King David outlined the plan to kill Uriah, by sending him to the most dangerous fighting to be killed, in order to take his wife, Bathsheba. Such things happened on the whole Israel, and innocents’ outcry had reached to God. He continuously sent His prophets to warn and to call people to repent; but they ignored, despited, and killed them.

            So, God decided not to protect Israel anymore, and let foreign armies come to destroy them. These are what happened to the Jews when God let His vineyard to be a wild land: On 721 BC, the Northern Kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrian armies; the king and his people were on exile to Assyria. When this happened, the Southern Kingdom should learn a lesson to return to God; but they kept continue in their wicked way. On 587 BC, the Southern Kingdom was destroyed by the Babylon armies; the Jerusalem city and the Temple were completely destroyed; the king and his people were on exile to Babylon. All Israel became a wild land.

2/ Reading 2: Let try to yield good result.

2.1/ The way to yield a good result: People yield wild grapes because they did not believe in God’s providence and hoarded up richness for themselves without concerning about others’ sufferings. In order to bear good fruits, St. Paul adviced Christians: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”

2.2/ The good grapes in life: St. Paul listed out them: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

            To show that these fruits are not exceeding human power, St. Paul gave a concrete example which was his life: “Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

3/ Gospel: The son of the landowner was killed.

3.1/ The vineyard of the New Testament: We can say that Matthew’s report of the vineyard is the second song which is the continuation of the first song in Isaiah. The landowner is still God Himself; the vineyard is still the Israelites. The only point of difference between the two songs is in the second song, the landowner himself did not plant; but let tenants hired to plant.

3.2/ The landowner sent his servants to collect payments: When the time of harvest came, he sent his servants and son three times to collect his produce:

            (1) First, he sent his servants; but the tenants seize his servants: “one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way.” These servants are all those God sent to us: popes, bishops, priests, leaders, parents, teachers... Many times we did not listen to them; but despited, criticized, and killed them by many different ways.

            (2) Last, he sent his son to them, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.' They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. The landowner’s son is Jesus, God’s Only Begotten Son. He was sent by the Father to reveal and to redeem people. They will not only ignore him, but will also seize, scourge, mock, and nail him to the cross in the near future.

3.3/ The landowner’s reaction: Jesus asked his audience: “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?" They answered him, "He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times." The audience gave the punishments for themselves because they are themselves the tenants.

            Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;by the Lord has this been done,and it is wonderful in our eyes?Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit." Two revelations Jesus would like to reveal in this sentence:

            + The rejected stone is Jesus himself. He will be the cornerstone of the Church, which is God’s Temple. The author of Ephesians expresses this idea as follows: “RSV Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

            + Since the Jews rejected Jesus as their Salvator, the Kingdom of God will be expanded to all Gentiles. Those who accept him, will become God’s children and inherit the salvation.       

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - God has prepared for us all necessary things to live a life worthy of God’s children and to reach our ultimate goal. He provides: (1) many good leaders who continually protect, encourage, and lead us on the right path such as the Church, parents, priests, teachers; (2) the Scripture which contains all God’s revelation, problems and solutions of all that happen in life; (3) the sacraments to forgive our sins and to bestow His graces in all moments of our life; (4) the Ten Commandments and all Church’s teachings to keep us in the safe environment and to avoid the devil’s dangerous zone; (4) Chirst, he loves us to the point that he died for us and opened up for us the way to the eternal life.

            - If we know how to use all God’s blessings, we will yield good fruits according to God’s will. If we don’t use God’s blessings and intentionally live according to what we think or to devil’s allurements, we will yield all wild grapes.

            - The reason for wild grapes is not from God because He has equipped us with all necessary things to yield good ones; but is completely from us because we don’t know how to use His gifts. God will be patient to wait for us to repent in a certain time; but if we deliberately walk in the wicked way, He will take back His gifts and give to those who will value and yield good fruit for Him.

            - All of us need to read these readings carefully and to reflect deep in our life to see what kind of fruits we are yielding right now, good or wild grapes. 

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