Grape Harvest Season in Volnay, Central France, South China Morning Post, June 2018.

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“There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it…..” Matthew 21:33.

Words and phrases highlighted in red are links to supporting materials.

There have been so many vineyard parables in the last few weeks that I began to think of other ways of dealing with this metaphor. The vineyard typically means the world, and we the workers in it. So how about this as an alternative: the vineyard represents each one of us. We are each lovingly created by God as we emerge into the world. Some of us have heavier burdens to bear than others (as seen in the photo above) but everyone is able to produce a good harvest (also seen above); after all, what is the point of creating a vineyard is there is no hope of it producing anything of profit? The people in the vineyard are our talents, again some of God’s children having more than others, but that’s the way of the world. God must intend it, our job is to figure out what God’s intention is! Clearly it is to grow grapes as best we can, the reward being success and the vineyard owner, God, being pleased and the reward being ultimate and eternal happiness. I can’t change that element in the parable! We are the ones in charge of those worker-talents. We decide what they should be doing, or, as in this parable, what they shouldn’t be doing. So in a sense, in this way of thinking, we are the tenants of ourselves, each the temporary boss. And it is there that the trouble begins. The owner eventually wants to see how his property (us, you, me) is progressing, which is not surprising seeing how he lovingly created it. Well the tenant (each of us), according to the parable, thinks otherwise, and is not prepared to acknowledge that the owner is the owner. I am the owner! And this even to the extent of killing the owner’s son in the vain hope that this would mean the ownership would now revert to me. Now all my skills, those gifts of God, will now work exclusively for me and no-one else. It is the triumph of self over God our creator. I become my own god! However, according to the parable, the owner is quite able to evict me, bag and baggage.

In other words, we are not our own property; we are created by God, in God’s own image, and must behave accordingly. Our gifts (and each one of us has them, some more, some less according to God’s will) are to be developed to the greater glory of God, not our own glory. In that lies the source or destruction of our own true happiness, or blessedness (the words have the same meaning). If we reject the fact that we are called to be servants of God, serving God and neighbor as we take legitimate care of ourselves, therein lying the source of all happiness, then we condemn ourselves to a life of selfishness, envy, covetousness and pain. Ultimately that leads to hell. Remember my vision of hell is an eternity of self-consciousness, left entirely to ourselves, with nothing and no-one else, exactly the life we chose to live here on earth. Forever: the “wretched death” of the parable. How much better it is to tend willingly to our gift of the vineyard, our own life here on earth, utilizing therein our gifts for the greater glory of God through the supreme command that we love God, neighbor and self. Then, at last, to be welcomed into God’s life and ultimate happiness forever. The choice is always with us, to obey – or disobey, the original sin.


The Expulsion from Paradise, Michelangelo 1510, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City State.

Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.

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