Justice, the People of God, and the Sacraments: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

We should frequent that sacraments that can be frequented.

Central idea: Justice and the people of God. Doctrine: The Church is sacramental. Practical application: Frequent the Sacraments that can be frequented.

To view Lectionary 139, click here.

Central idea: Justice and the people of God

Reading 1 Is 5:1-7

Let me now sing of my friend,
my friend’s song concerning his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;
he spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he looked for the crop of grapes,
but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I had not done?
Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes,
did it bring forth wild grapes?
Now, I will let you know
what I mean to do with my vineyard:
take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled!
Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to send rain upon it.
The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his cherished plant;
he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry!

  • The vineyard is a metaphor for God’s Chosen People. The justice that God and his people agreed on was that He would provide everything they needed for a good life and they would obey the commands of the covenant. But they did not; they were “wild.” So, God said he would remove his favor, everything would fall apart for them, and their enemies would overrun them.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20

R. (Is 5:7a) The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

A vine from Egypt you transplanted;
you drove away the nations and planted it.
It put forth its foliage to the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River.

Why have you broken down its walls,
so that every passer-by plucks its fruit,
The boar from the forest lays it waste,
and the beasts of the field feed upon it?

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
O LORD, God of hosts, restore us;
if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.

  • The psalmist is not one of those wild grapes whose injustice resulted in God removing his favor from Israel. He asks the question, “Why are we in this condition?” which Isaiah answered, “Because of Israel’s injustice.”
  • The psalmist says ‘give your favor back to us and we will return to the covenant’. The psalmist sees that life, happiness, and salvation consist in being in a right relationship with God.

Reading 2 Phil 4:6-9

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

  • Paul speaks of the fundamental, deep-down happiness we followers of Christ and members of his Church have. The reason for this happiness is that we are in a right relationship with God, our neighbor, and creation.
  • With gratitude for all we have received and with trust in God’s steadfast goodness, we ask for what we now need—and we will be in need every day of our life because we are dependent beings. This is why we make petitions to God for everyone’s needs.
  • We should focus our minds on the goodness, truth, and beauty of God, of human beings, and of the natural world. And we should fix our wills on pursuing these goods.

Gospel Mt 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

  • Our Lord addressed this parable “to the chief priests and the elders of the people.”
  • Isaiah described the unjust Israelites as “wild grapes.” Now Our Lord refers his own people as “tenants,” not part of the family of the landowner but outsiders who wish to rob the landowner of his property through murder.
  • This parable applies to each of us insofar as we have responsibilities and authority—and we all do to some degree.
  • God demands good works from us, just as the landowner expected produce from the land he leased out. Our natural tendency, because of original sin, is to look out only for our own selfish interests, like the tenants. We can reject any prophet—anyone who tells us the truth about ourselves and God—just as the tenants did. We are capable of being rejected by God and having everything taken away from us, just like the wretched men who faced a wretched death. Let that be a warning to us.

Doctrine: The Church is sacramental

  • In the beginning, every human being was supposed to be a member of the family or people of God. This was broken by original sin. Then God formed a people for himself through Abraham. In the time of Moses, this now-numerous assembly of the descendants of Abraham agreed to live in a covenant with God. They did so imperfectly but reached the apex of their temporal prosperity with King David and his son King Solomon. Christ the descendent of David brought salvation and sanctification to every human being, establishing his Church as the new people of God. Every human being is invited to be a member of this family.
  • The vineyard of the Lord today is the Church. We enter its protective hedge through baptism. The work that God himself did in the vineyard so that the choice vines could grow and bear fruit is the sacraments. The sacraments provide grace so we can be saved and sanctified while in this earthly vineyard.
  • There are seven sacraments, all instituted by Christ, through which he pours his salvation and sanctification on his people. (See CCC The Seven Sacraments of the Church 1210 ff.)
  • Baptism forgives all sins, gives us a share in God’s own life through sanctifying grace, and makes us children of God.
  • Confirmation is a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit which enables us to live and witness the Faith maturely.
  • The Eucharist gives us as our daily spiritual food the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.
  • Holy Orders gives men the power to teach, rule, and sanctify the people of God that he gave the Apostles.
  • Matrimony raises the natural institution of marriage to a means of sanctification for spouses so they can help each other and their children and contribute to the common good.
  • Penance forgives sins committed after Baptism.
  • Anointing of the Sick helps the faithful face serious illness and death.

Practical Application: Frequent the Sacraments that can be frequented

  • The Church recommends that we receive the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist frequently.
  • For many, frequent confession means going once or twice a month or weekly. It is good to get prudent advice and then to make a prayerful decision about how often to receive this sacrament of healing—and then to be faithful to this resolution. For example, one might decide to go on the first Saturday of each month. Frequent confession is greatly aided by a an examination of conscience every evening.
  • Pastors can assist the faithful in receiving this sacrament frequently by offering times for Confession that are convenient for the faithful. In addition, pastors can let people know they are always available by request. At my parish, the celebrant hears weekday confessions for ten minutes beginning twenty minutes before Mass.
  • The Church requires us to attend Mass each Sunday. We can also attend daily Mass. Many do because they have discovered what a treasure it is.
  • If you attend Mass each Sunday and wish to go deeper, you can start small by attending just one more Mass each week. Choose a day and time that will work for you and, assuming you are in a state of grace, receive Communion.
  • Pastors can assist the faithful in receiving frequent Communion by offering daily Mass at time convenient for people who have regular work commitments (not just retired persons).
  • They can also welcome mothers with small children.
  • They can also not make the weekday Mass unnecessarily long. A daily Mass can be celebrated reverently and without hurry in twenty minutes; a forty-minute Mass may preclude busy people.

The Homiletic Directory recommends the following Catechism points and themes for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time:

  • CCC 755: the Church as God’s vineyard
  • CCC 1830-1832: gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • CCC 443: prophets are the servants, Christ is the Son
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