We have a great deal of talk about vineyards today, in both the Old and New Testament. Our first reading begins on a happy note. It tells of a man who has a vineyard. He clears it and plants the best vines. But it brought forth wild grapes, not fit for eating. The vineyard symbolizes the nation of Israel, the chosen people.
God had brought them out of slavery and had made them His people. But they did not remain faithful to His law and worshipped other gods. And God asks them, “Why did you stray from Me? What more could I have done for you that I did not do?”
The prophet tells them that they will be like the vineyard that first flourished. But because of their disobedience, they will be forsaken and trampled underfoot.
In our Gospel, Matthew uses the image of a vineyard. It’s a metaphor for the Kingdom of God. The tenants in the vineyard are unworthy of the trust placed in them, and so the Kingdom of God will be taken away from them.
This parable should speak to us today. We are now the tenants of the vineyard and we are entrusted with the spread of God’s Kingdom on earth. We have been called to bring about the reign of God and our presence as Christians should make a difference in the world.
The vineyard we are called to labor in is as close as our next door neighbor and as wide as the world. The vineyard is ours to take care of. It isn’t all that difficult. When we take time to explain things to a child or someone who is having a hard time understanding something – isn’t that a little like opening the eyes of the blind? When we try to bring about reconciliation between those who have been at odds with one another – isn’t that like healing a sickness?
The owner of the vineyard placed his trust in the tenants and that trust was abused. God pays us the compliment of trusting us with His work on earth, and it’s all up to us, if people will say of us as they did the early Christians: “See how they love? How they love God? See how the love one another how they love us?”
Each of us can make a difference in this world. Ask yourself the question: Would my vineyard produce sour grapes or good fruit? What would your answer be?