BY: Fr. Gerald Musa


HOMILY: In Jonathan Swift’s famous book, Gulliver’s Travels the Lilliputians have a law against the vice of ingratitude. “Ingratitude is reckoned among them a capital crime; for they reason thus, that whoever makes ill return to his benefactors must be a common enemy to the rest of mankind, from whom he hath received no obligation. And, therefore, such a man is not fit to live.”

Jesus was concerned so concerned about the vice of ingratitude and he told his disciples a parable of 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 owner offered to the tenants and observe how they wasted the opportunities and how they rudely expressed 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 (the heir) 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.
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 about people’s lack of gratitude to God. In his letter to the Romans he says, “For although they knew God they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds” (1:21).

In which ways do we express gratitude for the countless blessings and opportunities 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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