Isaiah 5: 1-7; Philippians 4: 6-9; Matthew 21: 33-43
All I’ve done for you, and this is the thanks I get??? I’m sure many have heard or said those words to the kids. We do so much and things don’t work out the way we want. I have to believe at least in my imagination, that when we hear readings like this that that thought had to cross God’s mind at some point. All I’ve done for you and this is the thanks I get?!? God has to even think that now; the way we treat others, violence, war, the way we abuse this earth. All I’ve done and given to you and this is the thanks I get?
Take this first reading that we hear today from Isaiah. The “friend” does everything right! He prepares the soil, hoe’s and spades the soil, builds a wall to keep the animals out…everything right, and what does it produce? Wild grapes? Everything right, and this is what I get? How many parents here have said those same words about your kids? Didn’t I do everything right with them in passing on the faith and now they want nothing to do with it…this is the thanks I get??? Yet, it is a God that suffers patiently with us; a suffering servant, who, despite our infidelity, continues to call us to be the good grapes, to be made into the choice wine. A patient God who continuously calls us…
Jesus uses the same story in today’s Gospel and he too understands that suffering. He too is that suffering servant. Yet, he turns it on the pharisees and elders and question what they would do, and the response, violence. It’s not that patient suffering knowing that God can lead us to newness of life. Jesus is that son that he speaks of in the parable…he understands our suffering. He understands that things don’t always go the way we want them to and expectations dashed.
Paul, too, understands in his letter to the Philippians. He finds himself in prison, probably at the end of his own life. He too knows that people just don’t get it right and things don’t always turn out the way we want. Yet, he too becomes a model. He continues to live out the call. He just doesn’t toss God aside like we at times do. Just give up! No, Paul says, you still live your life faithfully; you still live out that call. He understood that God has done all this for us, and he’s going to thank him differently.
As we gather at this celebration this morning, we gather mindful of all that God has done for us. We are mindful of how Paul calls us to live, even in the face of suffering, even in the face of things not going our way…to be people of justice, people of love, people of forgiveness, people of honor, and so on. Look at all God has done for us…now how am I, and how are you, how are we, going to thank God with the life we have been given???