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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Heart is the Vineyard of the Lord

When I was a child, I was very close to my grandfather and in his last days he gave my father a toy horse to give to me. I don’t have the horse anymore, but I can still remember it. It was grey and wound up by a key its legs and tail would move. The toy didn’t survive childhood – its owner was too inquisitive and wanted to see how it actually worked. Nevertheless, it was a precious keepsake and memory of someone who was precious in our family’s life.

I have many items in my life, both things and memories, that are precious to me. Now that I am an adult and realize the importance of such things, I guard them with a little more care. None of them are valuable in a monetary sense but they are priceless to me. A small wooden cross, a bible my best friend gave me when I first entered the seminary, a medal and note from Mother Teresa, a baptismal blanket made by my mother, photos of family and friends. Precious to me and priceless but the memories of friends, family, important events are even more precious and heartwarming.

In the Gospel story of the Parable of the Tenants we hear of the care the landowner took to build up his vineyard so that it was fruitful, productive, and successful. The tenants are unworthy of the landowner, as they cheat him, steal his produce, and plot to steal his property and his son’s inheritance. They beat his servants and eventually even go so far as to kill his son. Of course, the landowner represents God, the vineyard all He has given us in creation, the servants are God’s prophets, who He sent to remind us and set us back on track, and the Son is Jesus, who we killed because of our sins. Jesus is God’s greatest and most beloved treasure. A treasure that is not a thing but a person.

Interestingly, the landowner’s property was valuable, but His Son was precious. God the Father loves His Son, Jesus. And today He continues to give His vineyard into the hands of tenants. We are those tenants. He gives us creation as an inheritance and life as a gift. Even today He sends His prophets to remind us that we should be attentive to what we owe back to God. We should be carful to remember that we should give to God what belongs to God out of the good things God has given us.

However, so much more important than this is the fact that God still sends His Son into the world. What is the most precious thing in your life? What is the most precious thing God has sent you? For most of you that will be your children. There is no child in the world that God hasn’t sent into the world, for ultimately, all life comes from God. Your child is His son/daughter that God sends into your care. More precious to God is every hair on this child’s head than all the wonderful things God has created put together. As surely as Jesus was His Son your child is God’s son or daughter also. They are loved by God just as much and just as intently. In the care of your child you are the tenant who cares for the Owners vineyard. What will you plant in the heart of this child that will please God? What sort of return is the Owner going to receive?

Every child who is conceived is a gift from God, a child of God, and is precious to God. Soon we will be given the choice to vote on the protection of these children, to make our State a place of life where we cherish life, and God’s gifts. We can also choose to steal from the Master of the Vineyard by killing His children, His sons and daughters. All human life, every child no matter how they come into the world, is sent by God as a gift – we receive gifts with joy. This should be true of children most of all.

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