October 4th, 2020: Homily – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Good morning and once again welcome to the 27th Sunday of ordinary time. Your presence here today reminds me of a passage in the Gospel of John, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” I gather that because you are here, you are thirsty for the word of God. I ask for the Grace of God in the Most Holy Name of Jesus and that by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will be able, in some small way, to fill that thirst as you receive the Spiritual drink that I am about to relate to you. Then, hopefully, you will go forth to share the richness of the Word of the Lord with others.

Today, when listening to the readings, we heard similarities between the First Reading from the Book of Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew. Both spoke on the same subject in different ways. The Book of Isaiah referred to this subject as, “The Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard” while the Gospel of Matthew referred to it as “The Parable of the Wicked Tenants.” While carefully reviewing these two readings, two meanings can be perceived from what was read. While both meanings are prophetic, the first is worldly in nature, the second being spiritual in nature, transcending all times.

To understand who the Wicked Tenants were in the parable that Jesus gave, it is necessary to know who Jesus was speaking to. When Jesus gave the Parable of the wicked tenants, He was prophetically addressing the chief priests and the Pharisees who were present. This truth is supported by the details that are found in the different Gospels on the subject of the Passion of Jesus where we learn that it was the chief priests and the Pharisees who condemned Jesus to death. The vineyard represents Israel, the chosen people of God that had been freed from captivity, led to the land of promises and received endless blessings from the Lord. The landowner is the Lord God who owns the chosen people. They are His people.

When we are told that at harvest time, the landowner sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce, we are actually being told that when God expected righteousness from His people in return He sent the prophets. The tenants, who represent the chief priests and Pharisees, seized God’s prophets beat and killed them. Finally the landowner, God, sent His only Son Jesus saying, “They will respect my Son.” Rather than believing and accepting the teachings of Jesus as the Son of God, the chief priests and Pharisees plotted against Him and killed Him. Why did they plot against him and kill Him? It is because the chief priests and Pharisees saw the crowds of people who were following Jesus to hear His Word. They saw the influence that Jesus had on them. They witnessed the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus. They feared the arrival of the Kingdom of God that Jesus was preaching, a Kingdom that would take away their dishonest positions of glories and honors.

When Jesus stated that the tenants had said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance,” He was speaking of the manner in which the law of those days was applied. When an heir died without having made a legal will, his property was considered unoccupied land that went to the first person who claimed it. If tenants were on the land, they had first opportunity to claim the property by their right of occupation. One verse in Matthew 21:33 is very important. It says the landowner LEASED the land to the tenants. It does not say he gave it to them, he LEASED it to them. When something is leased, something is expected in return. Equally, those who qualify to become children of God, are expected to become shining lights in the world. They are expected to shine in the love of Christ towards all. They are expected to grow in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. These Spiritual qualities are what the Heavenly Father expects His children to present to Him in return for His blessings in appreciation of the gift of life that God has given them through the Blood of Christ.

As in the days of the Old Testament, nowadays, many reject the Word of God. And they also reject those who are being sent by the grace of God to teach the truth by the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. But as Jesus was rejected and killed, many today are rejecting the sanctifying works of the Holy Spirit, dulling their spiritual minds to the extent that they can no longer hear the Divine voice in their hearts. They are putting their faith in the ideas that are being put forth by those who say. “We must be politically correct. Let’s forget about what God has taught or what we read in the Bible.”

While rejecting the Holy Spirit, they still expect to receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of God that belongs to the true children of God that persevere in their living faith. They ignore that faith without works is dead! They expect to be saved by their own human power. By living a good life without the absolute necessity of the Church Sacraments and perseverance in the Christian faith. They believe beyond any doubt, without the power of the Holy Spirit, that the eternal glory and honor that awaits the children of God is theirs. Like the chief priests and the Pharisees, all that they will receive is a miserable death.

Those who are saved are those who do not reject the cornerstone, Jesus Himself, our Divine Redeemer. They walk in the grace of God, joyfully allowing the Holy Spirit to sanctify them in Christ. How is this accomplished? St. Paul answered that question during today’s Second Reading. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. In all you do, make sure that it is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing and commendable. Keep on doing the things that you have learned since your childhood, received and heard from those who have brought you the word of God and imitate the example of those who live their Christian lives. Let us keep in mind the fruits of the Kingdom are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are “love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Through such holy living, as we have heard in our bicentennial prayer, “may we shine like stars in the world”, and that we take the Gospel of Jesus to all we meet; may the peace of God be with you all. AMEN!!!!

Deacon Charley

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