YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: REASSESSING THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: * Is 5 : 1 – 7, Phil 4 : 6 – 9, Matt 21 : 33 – 43.
“A thousand souls a day are passing one by one away in Christless guilt and gloom without one ray of hope or light… O Church of Christ, what will thou say when in that awful judgment day they charge thee with their doom.. ” – A. B Simpson.
PARABLES OF JUDGMENT
We’ve been dealing with parables of judgment a few Sundays back : God’s welfare scheme for 25th Sunday and the parable of the 1st Son who had a rethink for 26th Sunday. Today, we are presented with the final dispensation of bitter judgment from God over his wicked tenants.
Parables are earthly stories with heavenly meaning. Biblical scholars identify 2 major types of parables that Jesus used : the window parables make you peep into the outside from the inside, eg the parable of the lost coin makes you feel the experience of searching for a lost treasure, while the mirror parables make you see yourself in the mirror of the story, eg the parable of the sower makes you see the place of the Word of God in your life. In today’s parable, Jesus wants the Chief priests and elders and all of us in positions of leadership in the Church (the Vineyard of the Lord) to assess ourselves. No Church or ecclesiastical system can claim complete possession of the kingdom keys – It goes only to faithful tenants – and we shall know them by their fruits.
B. THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD
‘I will tell you what I am going to do to my Vineyard… I will knock it down and lay it waste…’ Yes, the Vineyard of the Lord is the Church (the House of Israel). The man who planted this Vineyard is God himself. He fenced it with the Word of God and dug a wine press through the sacraments of the Church (especially the Holy Eucharist) and built a tower to protect it through the doctrines kept in the custody of the Pope and the Church’s teaching magisterium. He then leased it to tenants (bishops, priests, pastors, Church elders, Parish and Station Councillors, Parents and teachers, and all forms of Church leaders).
Wicked Tenants seizing God’s servants are people who kidnap and kill men of God and people who try to hijack or resist the Word of God and secularize our Churches with mundane pursuits. They are enemies of Christ’s Cross trying to crucify Jesus the 2nd time, Phil 3 : 18. Whatever we do against the Eucharist today is a final onslaught against Jesus’ last avenue of his real presence on earth. The judgment is that he will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the Vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the goods to him in proper time.
C. ENEMIES OF THE KINGDOM
What is likely to be God’s points of disappointment with the Church of today? First, I guess is our lack of zeal for evangelism. We have left the real attention to the true message of salvation and preach more of prosperity gospel and tithe oriented homilies for the enrichment of our pockets and perhaps the building of Church projects. The greatest tragedy of modern day Christianity is that we are gradually turning over to a different gospel; a gospel of prosperity not a gospel of detachment; a gospel of self survivalism not a gospel of compassion and love for others; a gospel of noisy and aggressive prayer not a gospel of quiet and meditative prayer; a gospel of sectionalism not a gospel of expansivity and universal brotherhood.
Second, is lack of practical Christian witnessing. The Cross is put far away and the hard disciplines of Christian morality are becoming vestiges of the archive. The Eucharist (God’s last chance of salvation to mankind) is being daily abused by people who receive it in mortal sins.
The Church is God’s vineyard on earth. So, the Church ( both local and universal) needs constant self examination and reassessment. Every local Church ( diocese and parish) must examine its attention to the mission of evangelisation. Are there wicked tenants trying to hijack the Vineyard of the Lord? They may be clerics or lay people. Surely, the judgment of God is coming in great anger to visit such wicked tenants. May God give us a better sense of responsibility in God’s Vineyard so that we would never be negative victims of God’s anger and judgment. Happy Sunday dear friends!
FR BEN AGBO.