The Grapes of Our Vines

10-08-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

In our first reading, we learn that the prophet Isaiah has composed a song about his good friend, the vineyard keeper. We are not told this right away in the passage, but we learn the vineyard keeper is actually God. The thoughtful and hardworking keeper first decided on which land to plant, then the land was cleared of stones. After doing all this, he planted the vines and constructed a special vat and watchtower. As farming plans can go, the crop had every chance to become perfect, but it didn't. Surprisingly wild grapes grew instead, and the keeper became irritated and quite upset. His only recourse was to let the vineyard go and become whatever it would. Certainly there is a lot of symbolism in this story for God and our lives.

Matthew's Gospel of this weekend continues the vineyard theme, but in this case, it is the human element that is addressed. The story is the landowner (God) previously sent servants (prophets) to gather the proceeds from the harvest. The vineyard workers (the chief priests and elders) killed the slaves. And then we learn that finally the landowner sent his son thinking that beyond a doubt the workers surely would not kill him, too. But, in fact in the story, they did (Jesus' crucifixion). We believe that it is God's way that something good should be born from something bad. Even though the workers killed the son, new life for the world began with his death and resurrection. We cannot do bad things to cause good, but we can take the bad and help find some good. When we think about it we are clearly the vines planted by Isaiah's vineyard keeper. Deep down, we know that we have been given every opportunity to love and serve God, but are the grapes of our vines wild or will we yield a good crop? In many ways, the vineyard of Matthew's Gospel has been left to us. The owner's son was killed, but new life began with his resurrection. We know that the field has been entrusted to our care - that is the field of the Church and God's world. We are called to continue the care of the vineyard and be faithful to its mission. The fruit we yield must be good. Therefore, we need to work actively in our Church and world to be sure that it is God's will that prevails. We have been given a choice. Will you choose to bring good and life to our lives?

The Passing of Time: Just a thought or two about this season of the year: So much of the regular routine of our life has restarted as we move through September into October. The Fall in New England is a time that can become frantic and over scheduled. School, sports, music and art lessons and all sorts of special personal development activities have restarted. Sometimes, life becomes too hectic. I hope that folks save time for family and friends to meet, have some food together and some fun. An over-scheduled life does not really lead to anything except an emptiness for what really matters. What matters is spending time with the people of your heart and life. I would also suggest that spending time with God at Mass is also an important activity and can make your life deeper, more meaningful and purposeful and also more satisfying.

Mass of Remembrance: Please mark the date: On Saturday, November 4 at 11 AM, we will celebrate an "All Souls' Mass" of Remembrance for those who have gone before us in this past year. Please plan to attend and invite your family and friends.