Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Matthew 21: 33-43

"It will be given to a people who will produce its fruit"

This parable is known as the parable of the murderous tenants. It quotes freely from the passage of Isaiah given as today's first reading. It is full of allegory: the landowner is God; the vineyard is Israel; the wicked tenants are the religious leaders in Israel; the servants are the prophets who were made to suffer; the son is Jesus whose death is the crucifixion outside Jerusalem. The Kingdom will be transferred to a people who will cultivate it properly and produce its fruit, that is the Church.

But what sort of fruit is God looking for? That is the central issue of the parable. And the answer to this question has been given to us already by Isaiah: "He expected justice and found bloodshed, integrity, but only a cry of distress". Justice and integrity, these are constant demands of God throughout the Old Testament. The God of life and love wants justice to reign in the midst of his people and he wants the rights of everyone, especially the poorest and the weakest of people, to be respected. These are the fruits that should have been produced in Israel, the vineyard of the Lord.

So today, when there are still bloodshed and cries of distress, when demands of justice and integrity are so often rejected, when greed and avarice rock the entire world, God still looks to his people to produce the good works he demands. As the new people who have been called to live under the Reign of God, it is our vocation, not only to pray “thy kingdom come”, but to labour for its coming. Each one of us has a part to play, a harvest to yield; each one of us can be a channel of God's goodness and justice within the immediate community and in the wider world.