Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 8, 2017)

The image of the vineyard is the focus of two of today's readings. In both cases, things in the vineyard happen not to turn out the way the owner had planned. It seems that the people responsible for caring for the vineyard haven't held up to the owner's expectation.

As we consider these two passages, Jesus wants us to understand that God is the owner of the vineyard of life. We are responsible for the upkeep of God's vineyard. We collaborate in God's ongoing plan of creation, redemption, inspiration and salvation. We are to harvest the grapes of life in ways that give life: through honesty, respect, purity and decency.

As we consider what Jesus presents to us, we realize that we don't always live up to God's expectation. We know the kind of vineyard that God wants us to cultivate.

Too often we allow sin, fear and selfishness to prevent us from producing the kinds of fruit that gives life. Instead of grapes of life, we may find ourselves producing grapes of wrath: jealousy, envy and indifference, or worse, hatred, violence and injustice.

As we look within ourselves and at the world around us, we can find ourselves at times discouraged and anxious. At these moments, we need to listen to St. Paul:

"Have no anxiety at all." Francis de Sales has told us why: “With the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul.” Francis then explains his observation. “Instead of removing the evil, anxiety increases it and involves the soul in great anguish and distress together with such loss of strength and courage that it imagines the evil to be incurable - all this is extremely dangerous.” ( Introduction, 4. 11)

We need to be honest. We need to identify those areas of our lives - our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions - in which we experience difficulty in cultivating a harvest of peace, justice, reconciliation and love. But we need to do this without anxiety because anxiety both weakens our ability to turn away from sin and robs us of the courage we need to do what is right and good.

After acknowledging the reality of sin and the shortcomings in our life, we need to dedicate more of our energies to living “according to what you have learned and accepted then, the God of peace will be with you.”

Let us strive each day to produce a harvest of love from the vineyard of life …but avoid anxiety in the process.