Why does it bear wild grapes? 27 Sun A 2017

Friends, it is the same theme that runs through today's first reading and the gospel text. In today's first reading (Isaiah 5: 1-7), we will hear about a person who tells how his friend has tried to have his vineyard get all it takes to bear good fruit. In the end, the vineyard carries wild grapes instead of real grapes. From experience, we know that worries about the future make us sometimes do wrong things. We are worried about food, drink and clothes. We worry about money with which we can buy these things. Most people think that if they can gather enough money, they would be without worries. That is why many try to get acquire as much as possible. The paradox in general is that by struggling to make ourselves free from worries, we worry.

When Isaiah wrote about 740 BC Israel existed, despite being separated from Judah. In 721 BC, they suffered because of their infidelity to God. In a country of wine-growing people, the message was clear. God's chosen people knew his good works for them. They had passed from generation to generation in their history. With the image of a vineyard owner who had done everything for the vineyard to be fruitful, the prophet Isaiah depicts God's care, love, patience and interest in his chosen people. This is a story of people who refuse to stand under the wings of God, under His protection. The vineyard of the Lord Sabaoth is the house of Israel, and Judah is his sweetheart. It was a country that was expected to live in righteousness but chose to live in sin. Instead of real grapes, the farm carried wild grapes. The vineyard is the kingdom of God.

The apostle Paul encourages the Philippians to put their hope completely in God. Perseverant prayer and true thanksgiving and intercessions will create peace in and with them. Christ's peace brings them into this world and eternal peace in heaven. The first purpose of prayer is the worship of God in which we confess God as our creator and good giver. The second purpose is thanksgiving in which we thank God for all his mercies to us. It's only when we have fulfilled these two that we can pray to God for his spiritual blessings and gifts. Paul believes that this is a model of prayer that can give us peace.

Christian life is a life of prayer. Jesus urges his disciples to pray at all times (Luke 18: 1). We can pray continually by sacrificing all that we do as a prayer to God. That I proclaim the word of God to you today is my thanks for everything that he is and does for me. Being here today is also an act of worship and thanksgiving for your life. We can devote our entire life to prayer. This is prayer, not just the few minutes and hours we are kneeling and praying. At the baptism, our life became an important prayer to God. We can today renew it.

The gospel tells a parable of a landowner who had done everything for him to get his share of the harvest at harvest time, but instead his servants were mistreated, smashed, rocked and murdered by those whom he had hired to share with them the vineyard harvest. It is not in the story why the workers acted as they did. Perhaps they wanted to insure their future by gathering as much as possible for themselves. Through this parable, Jesus declares to the chief priests and the elders of the Jews that they were God's chosen people, they had broken through sin and were no longer heirs to the kingdom of God. The vineyard is in the Old Testament a picture of the Kingdom of God (Isaiah 5: 1-7, 27: 1-7, Ps 80: 8-26, Jer.22: 21). Jesus had Isaiah 5: 1-7 in mind when he spoke in today's parable.

In the parable, we see God's unlimited love, caring, patience and mercy toward his people and the depths of human cruelty and unselfishness. Our powers are limited and the people we have great expectation can disappoint us. We have difficulty in relying on the word of God. Therefore, we seek every possible way of relying on our own powers. It is absurd that we behave in this way. Perhaps this is one of the greatest victories in which the father of lies has succeeded -  creating in the heart of a human being distrust for God. What could more be done for my vineyard that I did not?

Do not worry, but call and pray, thank God and let him know all your wishes. God's word is more worthwhile than anything we think. Our understanding is limited and we cannot understand or know God's thoughts and recognize his depths. It is for us to strive for what is true, that which is elevated, right and pure, that which is worth loving and observing. We are created to love. Not with a little "homemade" love, but with God's own love. Only this love is true love. God's love transcends everything we can demand or desire. Gratitude is the basis for a happy life. Although all hope appears gone, we are invited to hold fast (Rom 4:18). "This hope does not fail, for God's love has been poured into our hearts by giving us the Holy Spirit." (Romans 5: 5). The second is God's greatest gift. By giving His Spirit God gives Himself. We are living in a veil of hope.

Fear arises in situations where we feel personally threatened, worried about the present and the future, fear of lacking in something. Each time it's a matter of something natural. It is something we value and are afraid of losing. Some people think that money and what it can buy is the most important thing for a successful life. In the United States, an investigation was conducted on "factors that contribute to a successful life". Having a lot of money "came in place 20 out of 22, while things like good health, good relationships and a job that you like came higher up on the list. The Bible can help us to have a sound view of success. It's not just about following their dreams to make all wishes come true. That thought is likely to lead to disappointment. Everyone has the opportunity to achieve success, but it requires effort. A life that only revolves around money and gadgets does not make anyone happy, rather the opposite. Happiness can never be bought with money.

God did a lot for his people Israel, but he has done so much more for us who are Christians. God's love for his people was only a shadow of the love he showed us, the newly chosen people. He sent His prophets to reveal and His message to the Jews. To us, He sent His Only Son in human nature to live, suffer and die among us to show us His love through this. He gave the Jews the land of Canaan, but he has made us heirs to the kingdom of heaven. After all, we refuse to listen to him. We are indifferent and deny him. God expects worship and thanks, but we show him ingratitude, impatience. We are selfish, we do not remember that we have received everything as a gift from him. We are always very busy with the world and its attractions and do not have time for him. Through Christ's victory on the cross, a new vineyard has been created in which all people are welcome. We are called for work in God's vineyard.

In goodness, God has created and blessed the world. In his love, he gives us a part in his creation as a co-worker and a trustee. This is a love contract that God has with humans. Just in this time, workers are needed in God's vineyard. Unfortunately, there are a few who work in God's vineyard on the condition of God.  To God belongs all glory and honour. This honour is expected of people who are entrusted with administrative responsibility. The whole earth is God's vineyard. Every person has work in this vineyard. All God does is love. He never plans to judge us. Lack of trust means that we usually choose not to give God the part of the vineyard harvest that belongs to him - this is his honour! Most of us take the honour that belongs to God. Through this we make our own creator and master. To a large extent, there is concern that causes this. Becoming human makes us responsible to bring fruit. To succeed in bearing good fruit, it is also necessary to trust in the word of God and to act accordingly. There is a conviction that God's love transcends all that a human may require or desire.

When a person seeks something other than what God has given, he loses what God has given. On the question of what the vineyard owner would do with the hosts, the chief priests and elders answered: "He pays evil with evil and kills them, and he leases the vineyard to others who give him part of the harvest in due time." The Kingdom of God is given to people with whom it can bear fruit. We do not hear the story today, to say that Israel and Judah deserved what happened to them, but it is presented to us today's chosen people so that we can apply the word of God in our lives. Our life should be characterized by gratitude to God who has done everything for us. We are always indebted in gratefulness to him who is our life and everything we have. Chikezie Onuoha MSP

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