What’s in Your Heart?

“There is no need to be anxious”, Saint Paul says. That’s a very difficult challenge.  But faith, especially the faith expressed in prayer, can move us from anxiety to the eternal peace God offers.  Think about the sources of anxiety in your life, and ask yourself how faith can help you get through them. This week’s readings deal with rejecting God, and then repenting of that rejection.  When have you turned away from God?  What should be the way you turn back?

The gospel proclamation is by definition Good News, so when we hear a passage like today’s gospel that seems so dark, we look carefully to find the message of hope.  Today the hope is in the vineyard itself.  It’s the traditional biblical image for God’s people.  God’s people are precious, worth rescuing from Egypt and transplanting to a Promised Land, as the psalmist tells us.  Isaiah’s song of the vineyard in the first reading reminds us of the trouble God has gone through for the sake of God’s people, who are called beloved and friends in the First Reading.  These words suggest that the vineyard is not mere property to an absentee owner, but dearly cherished by a creator who is more lover than farmer in relationship to this harvest.  The disappointment of God is also compared to that of a lover for the unfaithful beloved.   Anger, rejection and withdrawal are the results when God’s bountiful acts of love are neither acknowledged nor responded to.

The real tragedy of the tenants’ parable is that these people schemed to get rich quick, never realizing the wealth that was already theirs.  These tenants had been chosen by the vineyard owner to live in the land and care for the beloved vine.  It was a privileged position, destined for reward, and they forfeited everything they’d already been given in their selfish and irrational desire for more.  Holding onto worldly wealth and advantages, we, too, can miss the boundless riches of being the people of God to whom the Kingdom is given.  If we work for this benevolent Kingdom of God now, we will share in the joy of the harvest in the world that has no end. 

Prepare the Word + Lloyd Baugh, S.J.