Scripture Reflection, October 8, 2023, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 5:1-7 Philippians 4:6-9 Matthew 21:33-43
The image of a vineyard features prominently in today's first reading and gospel. In both readings the owner of the vineyard is seen as representative of God. But Scripture scholars offer a variety of interpretations about the other parts of the readings. In the gospel, the warning implied is often seen as directed to the religious leaders of the day.
The Scriptures, especially the parables, are multivalent. They disclose a variety of truths. What if we stay “grounded,” literally, in our interpretation of this parable? What if we see in the image of the vineyard our planet earth itself?
It, too, has been created with care, with everything that is necessary for life. This vineyard-earth has also been handed over by its Creator in stewardship to the care of others. How are we, the tenants, doing? Would the owner of the vineyard be pleased with how we have cared for his property? Or, like the tenants in the gospel, have we time and again prioritized our own greed over our caretaking responsibilities?
According to Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si, our earth, our common home is suffering…
“We all know that it is not possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society, where the habit of wasting and discarding has reached unprecedented levels.”(#27)
“Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market.”(#30)
“Caring for ecosystems demands farsightedness, since no one looking for a quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained.”(#36)
It is not hard to see the behavior of the selfish tenants of the gospel in ourselves.
Did you know that on September 1, 2016, Pope Francis introduced a new work of mercy: care for our common home? Frankly, that slipped by me, too! But in his encyclical, the pope clearly makes the case that love of God, who gave us this beautiful planet, and love of neighbor, our neighbors throughout the world and neighbors yet unborn, require us to take care of this valuable common home.
So what are we to do? What can we do individually and what can we do in cooperation with others to put the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor, into practice as we care for the vineyard with which we have been blessed?
Let us pray about that in the coming week…
by: Pat Schnee