Sunday, 8 October 2017 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard the words of the Sacred Scriptures this Sunday, each and every one of us who gather together to give glory to God are reminded to lead a holy and good life, in accordance with what the Lord had taught us to do. We are called to be fruitful vines and bear rich and bountiful fruits for the Lord, and these fruits are the fruits of our faith.

In the first reading today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people through His prophet Isaiah. The Lord spoke of how His people were His beautiful and precious vine, grown in His own vineyard. The Lord blessed the vineyard and took good care of it, but it only resulted in barren vines and bad quality grapes. And the Lord unleashed His wrath on the useless and unproductive vineyard, destroying it.

In what we have heard from this passage, we see that the aim for all of us as Christians is to be bountiful and fruitful. This is also the same recurring theme which the Lord Jesus often used in His teachings and parables. If we do not bear fruits, it is because we are lukewarm in how we have lived our faith, and we have not been truly faithful in our ways. We have also perhaps been compromising in many aspects of our faith, to the point that it leads us to sin.

As the Lord Jesus mentioned in another of His parables, that good trees and vines should produce good fruits and seeds, while bad and rotten fruits come only from bad and rotten trees, those that were poorly taken care of and were riddled with diseases. Therefore if we do not make the effort to keep ourselves spiritually well, we will end up becoming corrupted and wicked.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus showed us how many of us ended up falling for this same problem, as He spoke to the people, using the parable of the evil vineyard tenants as a method to show them, the dangers of the worldly temptations of power, greed and human desires.

The tenants of the vineyard had been entrusted with the care of the vines and the grapes, tending the vineyard in the absence of the master. Yet, when the master of the vineyard sent his servants to claim the master’s due from the tenants, the tenants refused to obey and even persecuted and killed the servants.

And when the master of the vineyard sent his son to collect the due from the tenants, similarly they also refused to obey him, and instead, hatching wicked plots in their minds, they struck at him and killed him. This was what Jesus had told the people, which was in fact a premonition of His own suffering and death, as the son mentioned in the parable refers to none other than Jesus Himself, the Son of God.

In that parable, we can see how God performs His loving mercy towards His people. Even though the evil and wicked tenants have repeatedly refused to listen and to obey to the master’s wish, that is to fulfil their obligations to pay him what was due for him, but the master still continued to send more and more servants, until ultimately he sent them his own beloved son.

Similarly, even though we have sinned and not obeyed His laws and commandments, but God is always willing to bring us back to obedience and faith. That is why the Lord sent us many of His prophets and messengers, and last of all, His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who like the master’s son in the parable, was persecuted and put to death by those who rejected Him.

The Lord has always been willing to give us new chances, one after another. Yet, many of us continue to be stubborn and refused to listen to Him. We cling strongly to our greed, to our pride, our haughtiness and arrogance, to the point that we are unable to control ourselves and we spiral down the path of sin. Pride prevents us from recognising our defects and unworthiness before God, and thus the need for us to repent from our sins.

We have to remember that sin is the great disease of our souls. Even though we may seem to be healthy and without any problems from the outside, but sin corrupts and makes our entire being rotten and wicked. Sin is the cause of our downfall, which is our disobedience against God, and instead following the path that we prefer for ourselves, for our own selfish desires and wishes.

If we continue to sin, and walk down this path of rebellion, then that is when we become barren and unworthy in our faith lives. The fruits of our faith is love, compassion, hope, zeal, devotion and charity, and more, and all these are snuffed away by sin. Sin becomes a veil that prevents us from loving one another, and from showing genuine care and concern for our fellow brethren. And at the same time, it also dulls our senses, that we are no longer capable of distinguishing between deeds that are good from those that are bad.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, do we want to be fruitful or barren vine? When the Lord comes, to claim all those who have been faithful to Him, thus bearing rich fruits, do we want to be counted among those whom He rejects because we have been found unworthy due to our rotten selves, through our sins and refusal to repent from our sinful ways?

Just as it is not an easy task to ensure that a grapevine or indeed any other crop to grow healthily from a mere seed or shoot, needing constant and long periods of care and attention, it will not be easy for us as Christians to live faithfully and to bear good quality of the fruits of our faith. Yet, if we choose the easier path out, offered by the devil who is constantly tempting us with worldly glories and temptations, then the outcome will be dire for us.

We need to learn to step out from our comfort zone, and nurture that seed of faith which the Lord had planted in each and every one of us. We need to do this by practicing our faith actively, through deeds and actions, and not just by words or formality alone. And that means, whenever we see anyone around us who are unloved, or even persecuted and in suffering, we should do our very best to help them, and to show compassion to them.

Let us all therefore, from now on, devote ourselves anew to God, and renew the commitment to live faithfully every single day of our lives, that we may grow ever more fruitful in our actions, based on our sincere and genuine faith in God. There will indeed be challenges, temptations and even opposition, but we cannot give up, for what is at stake is nothing less than the fate and salvation of our souls.

May the Lord continue to guide us on the path to His salvation and grace. May He empower each and every one of us to live as how the Lord wants us to be, and be ever more fruitful in this life, so that we will not follow the path of the wicked tenants, but instead, be loyal and good servants of our God. May God bless us all. Amen.

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