Glory to Jesus Christ!
Today in the Gospel we have a very sobering parable that we hear – the story of the husbandmen who proved to be rude, ungrateful, and even murderous in the face of the love of their virtuous master, that is, the God who entrusted to them their wealth.
The caring owner, it is said in today’s Gospel, planted a vineyard, surrounded it with a fence, dug in it a winepress, built a watchtower, and handed it over to the care of his workers. When the time of harvesting approached, the master sent servants to the workers, so that they would take the harvest and bring it to him. But the workmen, grabbing the servants, beat some of them, stoned others, and others they killed.
The master, despite this, sent other servants – more than before; but the workers did the same with them as they did with the first. Then the master sent his son, thinking that they would at least be respectful before him and cease their violence. But the workmen, seeing the son who came to them, saw rather a situation for their own gain and aggrandizement. They said, “This is the heir, let’s kill him and take possession of the inheritance for ourselves!” And, having seized the son, they led him out of the vineyard and killed him.
At the end of the parable, the Lord asks His listeners, “What will the master do with these husbandmen when he comes to his vineyard?” They answered Him: “He will bring those evil men to an evil end; and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render him the fruit in due season.”
Aside from any historical applications which may be drawn here, this parable applies to us. For by the vineyard of the Lord all human souls can and should be understood; by the hedge – the Divine Law, by which every soul must be protected from sin; the winepress is our own soul and heart, into which is poured the immaculate blood of the Lamb of God, who is slain for us; the tower is vigilance and asceticism, overshadowed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, which affirms our hearts in faith, in love, and in good deeds, elevating us from earth to heaven, allowing us to see afar off and to be well sheltered. Therefore, within the Divine Liturgy, we to this day call upon God: Lord, Lord, look down from heaven and see, and visit this vineyard, and affirm, and direct with Thine right hand.
So, the vineyard of God is all of us! And the vineyard must bear abundant fruit. Do we bring to the Lord the fruits of good works: faith, love, humility, meekness, kindness, mercy, temperance, purity, patience and other virtues? Or do we bear instead wild and poisonous fruits: pride, anger, envy, greed, impurity, drunkenness, murder? The Lord expects from us good fruits, but it must be said, it seems He waits in vain, for we remain the same sinners as we ever have been: barren, dry, and fruitless vines. Many of us will kill our own consciences with our sins; or we justify our sins with excuses.
The Lord created the whole world – beautiful and marvelous, He protects it with His care and strength, and wishes to make it the place of His own Kingdom, the Kingdom of mutual love and joy. But we see and we know that we have made a place out of this world where it’s terrible to live, where blood flows, where the cruelest acts are committed. And to this day the Lord sends people from generation to generation, His messengers – prophets, preachers, saints, to remind us that the world was created by Him for love and for joy, for peace. But just as in the Gospel parable, these messengers are driven out of the vineyard, betrayed, even killed.
God created us, revealed Himself to us, poured out His love on us, gave His Son for our salvation, and how do we respond to this great mercy? How do we respond in our lives to the Lord for His love for us, reaping the fruits of His mercy and care, His Cross and the suffering He has done for us?
Sooner than we think, the time of harvest will be here. The time of speaking, of words, will be past. So above all, we must be grateful. We must will thank the Lord not only in words, but also in actions – actions that should become a joy to Him, and to our neighbor – strengthening, support, and salvation. Let us begin to bring forth good fruits, let us begin to BE good fruits brought forth, let us BE the grapes of His vine and accomplish what the Master of the vineyard expects from us, so that we might be honored by His righteous reward in the Kingdom of Heaven.