27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7 Responsorial: Psalm 80:9,12-16,19-20
2nd Reading: Philippians 4:6-9 Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43
Allowing God to Nourish Us as His Vineyard and Bear Fruit For Him
Let me now sing of my friend . . . concerning his vineyard. (Isaiah 5:1)
Vineyards appear in Scripture time and again. In fact, they are in three of today’s four readings. Usually, as today’s psalm response says, a vineyard is “the house of Israel,” which belongs to God.
Isaiah’s song of the vineyard seems to be a gloomy tale for Israel—a carefully cultivated vineyard bearing only wild grapes, and an owner who allows it to fall to ruin. While Isaiah doesn’t guarantee what God will do with his people, it’s pretty certain that if nothing changes and they continue in their sin, they will experience the effects of cutting themselves off from God.
But even in the midst of this grim story, there is hope. Don’t forget that the landowner tirelessly cultivates his vineyard. He doesn’t give up! Yes, God expects to see fruit from his people, but only because he knows we can bear fruit. And yes, when we separate ourselves from God, we experience the consequences. But God constantly calls us back and offers us his help. That’s cause for hope.
Think about the way Isaiah’s landowner took great pains to prepare and protect his vineyard. He planted it in fertile, well-cleared soil. He planted a hedge around it and built a tower to watch for enemies. Similarly, God plants us in his grace and gives each one of us all the nourishment we need to flourish under his care.
Baptism makes you his own. The Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation nourish and restore you. The Holy Spirit lives in you and, like living water, helps you grow in holiness. What’s more, your brothers and sisters in the Lord, like the other vines in the vineyard, support and encourage you along the way.
God takes great pains to cultivate you like a precious vine. The grace for you to grow to love him more and bear fruit for his kingdom—it’s all there waiting for you. Take hold of it!
“Heavenly Father, help me to respond to your relentless grace and to bear fruit for you!
Questions for Reflection or Discussion:
1. The first reading begins with a metaphor: “My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines … Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes.” The reading continues with the judgment and ruin that will come to the vineyard because it did not bear fruit. The reading ends with these convicting words: The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his cherished plant; he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!
In light of the opening and ending words of the reading, what do you think the Lord of hosts was trying to convey to the house of Israel, and the people of Judah with the metaphor of the vineyard and its vines?
In what ways, by this reading, is the Lord also inviting you to judge the fruits of your own life?
What areas in your life (is there at least one) do you believe the Lord wants you to focus on to bear more fruit?
2. The responsorial psalm continues the metaphor of the vineyard and the vine and the judgment that has come upon it? The psalmist then prays that the Lord would restore his vineyard and give it new life: Once again, O LORD of hosts, look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name. O LORD, God of hosts, restore us; if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.
In response to God’s judgment against the house of Israel, why do you think the psalmist turned to prayer to ask for mercy for his people?
What is the psalmist promising the Lord in response to his answering his prayers?
How does the prayer of the psalmist relate to how we are to pray for the Lord’s mercy, and how we are to respond to his mercy in our lives?
3. The second reading begins with these words of St. Paul: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It ends with these words: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.
St. Paul tells us that continual prayer and petition, with thanksgiving will replace anxiety with the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Why do you think this is so?
St. Paul goes on to tell us to think about those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, of excellence and worthy of praise. Why if these things are done, does he say that God of peace will be with you?
4. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the chief priests and the elders of the people a parable about a landowner who planted a vineyard. Then he leased it to tenants. The tenants then seized and killed the servants and his own son who he sent to obtain his produce. The reading continues with these words: What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” The reading ends with these words: Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.
What do you think Jesus was trying to convey to the chief priests and the elders of the people with his parable?
Why do you think the consequences described were so severe towards the tenants, and to them?
Why is the fact that the landowner was willing to send his son so important to the meaning of the parable?
In what ways does the Gospel reading apply to you? How can you respond to it in better serving the Lord?
5. The meditation is a reflection on the first reading and includes these words: “Think about the way Isaiah’s landowner took great pains to prepare and protect his vineyard. … Similarly, God plants us in his grace and gives each one of us all the nourishment we need to flourish under his care. Baptism makes you his own. The Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation nourish and restore you. The Holy Spirit lives in you and, like living water, helps you grow in holiness. What’s more, your brothers and sisters in the Lord, like the other vines in the vineyard, support and encourage you along the way. God takes great pains to cultivate you like a precious vine.
How would you describe the graces God has poured out on your life to provide you with the “nourishment” you need “to flourish under his care”? Does it include “your brothers and sisters in the Lord, like the other vines in the vineyard, support and encourage you along the way”?
How can you receive these graces, in a greater way, as described in the meditation?
Take some time now to pray and ask our Heavenly Father for his help in responding to his graces and bearing fruit for his Kingdom. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.
“Heavenly Father, help me to respond to your relentless grace and to bear fruit for you!”