BY: Fr. Gerald Musa

Once upon a time there was a man who had nothing, and God gave him ten apples.

• •He gave him the first three apples to eat.
• •He gave him the second three apples to trade for shelter from the sun and rain.
• •He gave him the third three apples to trade for clothing to wear.
• •He gave him the last apple so that he might have something to give back to God to show his gratitude for the other nine.
• •The man ate the first three apples. • •He traded the second three for a shelter from the sun and rain.
• •He traded the third three for clothing to wear.
• •Then he looked at the tenth apple. It seemed bigger and juicer than the rest. He knew that God had given him the tenth apple so that he might return it to Him out of the gratitude for the other nine. But the tenth apple looked bigger and juicier than the rest. And he reasoned that God had all the other apples in the world. So the man ate the tenth apple—and gave back to God the core.*

Jesus gave a parable about a landowner and his ungrateful tenants. The landowner invested money, time and energy on his 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 it was time to reap the fruits of the vineyard, he was utterly disappointed by the ungrateful attitude of the tenants who maltreated the servants he sent and finally seized and killed his only son (cf. Matthew 21:33-43).

See the great opportunities the vineyard offers to the tenants and observe how they wasted the opportunities and their expression of ingratitude. They clearly failed to live to the saying “One good turn deserves another.” The tenants were rude and cruel to the landowner’s servants, yet he remained patient with them. The issue here is not that the tenants refused to bear fruit, but they rather refused to channel the fruits to the rightful owner. In addition, the tenants failed to render account of their stewardship, and they killed the Landowner’s son in an attempt to take over the property.

The Prophet Isaiah narrates a similar story of a landowner who invested heavily on the vineyard and was disappointed with the result: 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 (cf. Isaiah 5:1-7).

The parable of Jesus and the passage from Isaiah have something in common. They are about Landlords who were patient with their vines and the tenants. However, in the end, the patience of both landowners was exhausted and they took a decisive action on the vineyard and the tenants.

The parable of Jesus is loaded with meaning. The wicked tenants are those who reject the message of the Gospel (knowledgeable and comfortable people) and the new tenants (simple and ordinary people) are those who accept the Gospel wholeheartedly. The servants are the prophets that God sent, who are persecuted in the world. The son represents Jesus who is sent as final messenger, and the killing of the son by the tenants refers to his death and crucifixion. The vineyard illustrates the opportunities offered by God and it also represents the Kingdom of God is the vineyard.

God offers us countless opportunities in life and very often we blow up these opportunities, or fail to show appreciation for the privileges we enjoy.

God has invested so much in each of us to the extent that placed a part of himself in each of us and continues to nourish and sustain us. On our part, we have the obligation to be fruitful and to render an account of our stewardship. According to Paul, the way to be fruitful is to be honourable,� fair, pure, lovely, �gracious (Philippians 4:8). St. Paul was also aware that anxieties and worries are obstacles to fruitfulness, as these can affect peace and strength and so he offers a good formula for fruitfulness, which is: worry about nothing, pray about everything (Philippians 4:6).

In which ways do we express gratitude for the countless blessings we receive from God?
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, Isaiah 5:1-7; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43.

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