27th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A
A grape vineyard is a highly specialized kind of farm. The plants produce vines that can reach up to 56 feet (about 17 meters). Unless pruned most of the growth goes into vines and tendril branches. The farmer trims the plant and cuts the most fruitful branches. These are transferred to other vines and grafted into them.
Centuries ago the plants were cultivated by Egyptians and Babylonians. In Israel they had to be protected by armed guards from watchtowers. A thorn hedge prevented outsiders from stealing the grapes at harvest time. The grapes were crushed by feet in pits dug in the ground.
The bible compares the people of Israel with a vine taken from Egypt and cultured by God. Isaiah prophecies that God has found little fruit in his "vineyard" except for wild, bitter grapes.
THE STONE THAT THE BUILDERS REJECTED
Jesus makes a chilling prophecy to the religious leaders of his day. God had entrusted them with the care of his people--"his vineyard." He describes their ancestors' brutal treatment of the prophets. False prophets had been hailed, but true speakers for God had been beaten and killed. Now God sends his divine Son. Knowing that they will reject him too, he bluntly tells them that they will lose all.
He quotes verse 22 of Psalm 118. It refers to stone cutting. Builders cut blocks from quarries and preferred to have straight edges. Occasionally it might crack unevenly and be useless for normal purposes. It could prove valuable, though, as a cornerstone. If the ground were uneven, the off-edge stone might fit exactly for this special purpose. The psalmist is saying that God has a way of using things and people who do not seem to fit by human standards. The Lord is able to interpret people quite differently.
Jesus was crucified on a rock--Calvary--that had been rejected because of an earthquake. The cross is the foundation of the Church.
Could others be rejected for leadership failure?
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