2014-10-05, 27th A, The Owner, The Tenant and The Thief

Homily 10-05-14
Twenty-Seventh Sunday Ordinary Time, A
Is 5:1-7; Ps 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20; Phil 4:6-9; Mt 21:33-43

 (Scriptures included after homily)


You know, throughout our whole lives
we struggle with this concept of
who’s the Owner, and
who’s the Tenant, and
who’s the Thief.

And somewhere mixed in there, there’s always a Messenger, who could be, either an emissary of the Owner, or of the Thief.

We recently heard in the news, the story of ‘a break-in’ at the White House; where some guy jumped the fence, ran across the lawn, and wandered around inside the White House, before ever being stopped.  And it may have prompted some of us to think, “Well, welcome to our world, Prez.”

But then again, we have to remember: who’s the Owner?
Who pays for that White House?
(Well, that’s the taxpayers, us)

And who’s the Tenant?
(That same Prez)

Who put him there and what is he supposed to be doing?
(Again that’s us, and he’s supposed to be serving us,
so we should be supporting him as well)

And who really IS the Thief?
(Hmmm, him, or us?  Or is it the media?)
And what is the Message?
(Ummm, where is God in this picture?)

And then, we can take that concept and move it to the whole World and even to the Universe.  We’ve landed on Mars!  Who’s the Owner, and who’s the Tenant, and who’s the Thief?

Yet, maybe that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

So let’s come back to this Country, that we live in, and its fences.  Let’s come back to this State and its laws, the businesses we work at and their priorities, the house we live in, the car we drive, this body, this mind, this heart, this soul.  Who’s the Owner, and who’s the Tenant, and who’s the Thief?  And what’s the Message we’re receiving about the RIGHTNESS of it all?

Today we heard two messages.

The first was given to the people of Israel some 2700-years ago, when they forgot who the Owner really was and transferred ownership to foreign gods, and allowed Thieves to take possession of their hearts and minds, until it drove them from the luxury of freedom into the bondage of slavery.  They forgot that God is the Owner, and that they were simply the Tenants of this land that He gave to their ancestors.  And by killing His messengers, the prophets, and by forgetting their God, who created, and nourished and protected them, their house, their whole nation fell into ruin.

You see, we are called to never forget,
Who the Owner IS, and
Who the Tennant IS,
and Who the Thief really is.

The Second message, some 700 years later, came to a small remnant of that same Israel.  The Jewish religious leaders of the time were true to carrying forward the heritage and the law of God that was given to them through Moses.

 So forgetfulness was not their problem.

They were called, as Tenants of God’s vineyard to feed and to nurture, to love and to grow God’s Kingdom.  But instead, they selfishly stole ownership from God and used God’s Name to make themselves powerful and wealthy at the expense of the poor.  They were the Thieves.  And the Messenger, well, we all know what happened to Jesus.  And just like their ancestors, it was again, all destroyed . . .

EXCEPT for that Messenger,

who came back to pick up the pieces, and start all over again, because that is what – a True Owner would do!

Well, another 2000 years have passed.

Nations have come and gone.  We’ve survived wars and plagues, fires and floods.  We can communicate with our loved ones on the other side of the globe with the click of a button.  And we can drive a vehicle around on another planet that’s 130-Million miles away.

 The question is, “Is it all because
WE are so brilliant, so perfect?”

 Or is there something else involved?

Are we the Owners, or are we simply – very gifted Tenants?

Is the height of our greatest accomplishment measured in the tallness of a building?  Or is it quietly seen in the size of the community that we’ve rebuilt after a storm, or a war, or a devastating scene of poverty?

You see, today we are all asked those same probing questions.

Who is the Owner?
And Who is the Tenant?
And Who is the Thief in our lives?

When we can get those answers straight – in our thoughts, and in our hearts and in our souls.  When we can dismiss those Thieves called anxiety, or independence, or pride, or greed, then we will come to recognize, as God’s Tenants, the magnificence of His Gift in us, and the beauty and the dignity of every living being in this world, and in this universe –

. . . to whom WE are responsible!

And then we will BE – truly living
in His Kingdom,
the Kingdom that Jesus has prepared for us!

jmp 10-05-14

Scripture Readings for the Mass of 10-05-14
The Twenty-Seventh
Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

First Reading: 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!

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

R.  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.

Second Reading:  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.


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.”


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