BY: Fr Unachukwu Cyril CCE

“The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.” Israel the Kingdom of God’s children; the Kingdom in which God is the King. It is in this household of God that we all belong and only in this household do we find our full realization, for in it God has given us everything we need and much more, He has given us ‘His presence’ in the person of His Only Begotten Son, the God with us; in the Church and in the mysteries of our faith. May His presence in you bring forth fruits that will last; Amen.

Whenever we speak of vineyards in the ordinary sense of it, there are often two important facts that come to our minds; firstly the tedious task involved in the cultivation of vines and secondly the blossoming view associated with its harvest season. Between these two necessary ends are the challenges which surely accompany the process of growth; the process of pruning and grooming; the process of fruitfulness. Certainly “They go out, they go out, full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing: they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves” (Ps 126:6).

The readings of today use this imagery to help us understand the purpose of God’s Kingdom and a concise synthesis of the History of Salvation. In the First Reading (Is 5:1-7), we read the bemoanful and distasteful song about this Vineyard because of the unproductivity of the vines. This unproductiveness is not as a result of absence or insufficiency of necessary nutrients but the outcome of the inclination of the roots of the vines towards the disguised poison of the enemy and opposer of the Owner of the Vineyard. The poison of stuntedness and unproductivity; the poison of destruction. This accounts for the taste of dejection we sense in this song “I will lay it waste, unpruned, undug;” but also ending with an undiluted affirmation of possession “the Vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel.”

God has never ceased to do everything possible to make every vine in this Vineyard productive. Right from the moment of Creation, to the point of the fall, to the intense relationship between God and His people and to the very point of the incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has continued to manifest that “His great love is without end.” Jesus briefly summarized this long History of Grace in the Parable of the Vineyard we heard in the Gospel of today (Mt 21:33-43); the History of God’s involvement in the predicament of men and women, the History of Salvation. In this parable we see God’s indefatigable effort to make us fruitful and His patience and ever- readiness to lead us through the path of light. We also see ourselves; our insubordination, foolhardiness and inclination to destroy rather than build. Speaking to us directly in the parable Jesus concluded; “I tell you, then, that the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

One of the hallmarks of God’s Kingdom is productivity, a concrete sign of God’s presence amongst us. The type of productivity that promotes the expansion of God’s Kingdom. Our individual productivity is an indication of the presence and growth of God’s Kingdom in us and collectively we adorn the walls of this Kingdom with the beauty that springs from the reflection of God’s Beauty on us.

On this day of the memory of my birth, I thank God for all His blessings as I sincerely apologize for the times I chose the poison of the Evil One instead of the productive nutrients that flow from Him. I pray in line with the exhortation of the Second Reading (Phil 4:6-9) for the grace to be productive as long as He would allow me to live. May you too produce the fruits of God’s Kingdom; Amen.
Happy Sunday

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